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
Make some time for this documentary of the Clash, produced by longtime friend to the band Don Letts, and featuring interviews with the band.
I first heard “I Fought the Law” by the Crickets as I first heard many of the oldies: travelling in the car with my parents. Much of the foundation of my music education was laid while sitting in the back seat of the car as we drove to family gatherings, listening to the only radio station – WMJI Majic 105.7 – that my mother, father and I could agree on.
Sonny Curtis wrote the song and brought it with him when he joined the Crickets after Buddy Holly’s death, releasing it in 1965. The song was covered in 1966 by the Bobby Fuller Four and did well for them (though Fuller’s tremolo warble makes me want to punch him), but I’m going to take a wild guess that the majority of people reading this are most familiar with the Clash’s 1979 cover.
You’ll notice a couple of small lyrical changes from the Crickets’ original. For instance, the narrator of the original is robbing people with a zip gun, while, starting with the Bobby Fuller Four cover, he began robbing people with a six-gun. Though, of course, the biggest change implemented by the … Continue reading
What? You haven’t seen this fantastic Clash documentary? Well, pull up a chair, son (or… daughter).
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
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?
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