Strummer Remembrance Day

Joe Strummer



Joe Strummer, who we take as our patron saint here at NTSIB, died 11 years ago today. The above song, “Mega Bottle Ride” by Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros, ends with the line “And it’s time to be doing something good”, and it seems to me that one of the best ways that anyone can pay tribute to Joe is by doing good in his name.



A lovely example of that ethos is the Tumblr blog “What Would Joe Strummer Do?” A recent post on the blog itself beautifully sums up what’s going on there.


letsagetabita-rockin asked: Hello, Joe. Do you like the idea that there’s someone who lets people ask them rather serious questions on the internet and answers them as if they were you?

This blog was started as a fun project, a bit of punk-rock silliness we could share with others. We didn’t expect serious questions, but we got them – and now, those questions are the reason we keep doing this. If people stop asking us questions, we’ll stop answering.

In the meantime, there are people out there who have real questions and life-changing problems and no … Continue reading

On Joe Strummer’s Birthday: Reinvention

Joe Strummer

Time to raise a glass to NTSIB patron saint, Mr. Joe Strummer a.k.a. Woody Mellor a.k.a. John Mellor, who would have been 61 years old today.

Joe had a nervous energy that never let him settle in one place, one role, one style, one identity for too long, as outlined in a new article from The Atlantic website Joe Strummer and Punk Self-Reinvention. When Joe passed away in 2002, he was in the midst of yet another renaissance with his young group of lads, the Mescaleros. Below is an artifact from that time, a full Mescaleros show filmed at the Roseland Ballroom in New York in 1999.


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Strummer Week: Joe Strummer, R.I.Punk

Joe Strummer


Here we are, on the 10th anniversary of the death of Joe Strummer. I still miss Joe so much that it’s difficult to believe it’s a decade since he died… but maybe that’s because his presence is still so strong in the world. Things that Joe said and did still inform a good deal of what I do here and now, and I know it’s the same for people all over the world. He wasn’t perfect, no, but on his good days, he inspired more people than most of us will in our entire lives.

In Chris Salewicz’s biography of Joe, Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer, director Jim Jarmusch had this to say about his friend: “He talked a lot about the bad times that ended the Clash. He seemed to feel guilty. He felt really bad about Cut the Crap, said it was crap. I said, ‘You only learn from your mistakes. You can’t learn things without fucking up.’ We had a lot of discussions about mistakes and accidents, how circumstance and fate affects our lives, how if you want to find your dream lover, you’ll never find it, but as soon as you dismiss … Continue reading

…And Wants to Be Free

People often get the name of this blog wrong, especially on Twitter where I use the handle nowthissound. It makes me sad. Not because I feel it means the blog is not well-received but because it means people don’t know the source material. One of the reasons I call Joe Strummer the patron saint of this blog is because I took the name from the Clash. “This is Radio Clash” to be exact.



Though the biggest reason Joe is the patron saint is his life-long belief in the power of music and his joy in finding new and weird music and sharing it around. From his BBC radio series to his encouragement to “Go out and buy something weird today!” Joe kept an ear out for new sounds. The results could be heard from his early days with the 101ers, through the Clash and right on into the last Mescaleros album.

It’s that musical ideal, that desire to go out and find something great, no matter where it comes from, that I hope comes through on Now This Sound Is Brave. As the man sang, the stars go in, the stars go out, and … Continue reading

Joe Strummer: Love Kills

Today marks the eighth anniversary of Joe Strummer’s death, and the impulse is usually to be solemn and possibly even maudlin in our remembrances and tributes on this day. Yes, Joe was a seriously thoughtful guy and inspired many people to do great things, but he also had a sense of humor and wonder and joy which shouldn’t be forgotten. It bubbled out of him until the day he died.

So, in that spirit, I post the video for one of Joe’s contributions to the Sid & Nancy soundtrack, “Love Kills”. Joe, Dick Rude and someone who looks a lot like Jane Wiedlin as a group of inept federales, Gary Oldman turning into superhero Sid Vicious and (I think) a rockin’ song – what more do you need from a music video?


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Joe Strummer: It’s Time to Be Doing Something Good

It should be clear from the name of this blog that Joe Strummer is important here. A man born with fire inside, he influenced a range of people from musicians to activists. He would have been 58 years old today.


Photo credit: Bob Gruen

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Ponderous Wank: Music as Identity

For better or for worse, music has become inextricably linked to identity and image. Bands in certain genres are automatically tagged with certain traits by listeners. A “sound” may be attributed to a band based on their geographical location – the Seattle sound, the Philly sound, etc. And skimming through a few band pages at MySpace, one will find it easy to determine the sound of many bands solely from the art and images displayed (tip: if you display individual, name-tagged images of each of your band members accompanied by a photo of the band in a “fun” pose together, you will probably not be mistaken for a particularly experimental or progressive act).

This image tagging trickles down to the listeners and is sometimes forcibly taken up by listeners. Kids seeking their identities will lock themselves in their rooms with music for hours and will often emerge outfitted in the trappings of the music they have found the most relatable to their life or to the life they want to have. Cliques are formed. The punk kids won’t hang … Continue reading