Audio

This entire album is massively underrated, but this song is one of the most underrated tracks on it.

Rushing through the rush hour on an all-nighter
Never seen you look so young
The world really looks from this doughnut store
Such a funny colour in the sun

There are some of Joe Strummer’s lyrics that take my breath away, and while the vocals on Earthquake Weather may be rough and out of practice and less well-mixed than they could have been, the imagery of Joe’s words is enough to make up for all of it and more.

For once the traffic’s been conquered by the streets
Listening close the waterpools
You can hear the hiss and the leaks
And the rattling cans of the shuffling bands
Down the avenues of spare change
Forty blocks north in your memories
Audio

You all already know that today is Joe Strummer's birthday.  He would have been sixty-one, had he not already traded old age for immortality.

You also already know how I feel about Joe Strummer, because heaven knows I’ve gone on about it more than enough.  There’s a mixtape, too, if you’re interested.

It wasn’t possible, though, to let the occasion go unmarked, and so here is one of my favourites of his early songs, from back when he was in the 101ers, one of a million little pub rock bands that dotted the surface of England in the 1970s.  The turns of phrase and imagery he uses are what make me love this song so much (“the ragged wind blows me through the town,” “me and Bakelite all alone”); you can already see the beginnings of what he eventually became as a songwriter.

Also, for what it’s worth, here are a couple of links:

Happy birthday, Joe.

Text

purpleronin said: Jey why is there spanish in some songs by The Clash?

Joe Strummer was fascinated by Spain – its history, its people, its stories.  He grew up there for a time when he was young, used to vacation (or run away) there whenever he could, made friends with locals, moved there when The Clash called it quits to try to escape his past; he admired the country’s attitudes and was terrified of the implications of its civil war; he loved Spanish musicians, artists, writers, filmmakers, everything.  He met a Spanish punk band called 091 and liked them so much that he wrote them music, produced their second album, and offered thousands of pounds out of his own pocket to bring it to completion.  He bought himself what he called his “Spanish-American car,” an old silver Dodge muscle car, and drove it all over Spain visiting locations that were meaningful to him.  He fell in love with the work of Federico García Lorca to the point where… well, let me show you:

image

(Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer, by Chris Salewicz)

In short, Joe loved, or at least was deeply captivated by, everything about Spain.  That’s why he wrote "Spanish Bombs," which references many of his most significant interests in the Spanish Civil War.  It’s why he decided to do the backing vocals to "Should I Stay Or Should I Go?" in Spanish*.  It’s why there’s now a plaza dedicated to him in Granada, his favourite location in Spain.  And it’s why so much of, not just The Clash’s, but all of Joe Strummer’s work, contains Spanish language and references to Spain.

* About this song: you might notice that the Spanish in this particular song doesn’t make much grammatical sense.  What happened is that Joe decided at the very last minute that he wanted to do the backing vocals in Spanish.  His own patchy knowledge of the language was all Castellano, while Joe Ely’s was all Mexican (or “Tex-Mex,” as he refers to it himself).  They got the tape operator, Eddie Garcia, to help them translate by reading the lyrics over the phone to his mum, and she was Ecuadorian, so what they ended up with was a mashed-up, not-entirely-accurate translation.

Also, hey: if you’re interested at all in Joe Strummer’s wilderness years (or, perhaps, his Spanish-American car), there’s an extremely cool documentary project here that could definitely use more publicity.  Check it out!

Audio

It’s been a busy, stressful week, so I sincerely apologize if you’ve asked me a question in the last couple of days and I haven’t responded yet.  I promise you’ll have an answer very soon, and to make up for having had to wait, it’ll be a damned good one.

In the meantime, here’s this, one of my favourite songs to relax to and what I’ve been spinning for most of the day.  It was recorded by The Pogues during the Hell’s Ditch sessions, with Joe Strummer on vocals (he was producing Hell’s Ditch at the time and standing in for Shane MacGowan at live gigs), and it was eventually released under the name of “Joe Strummer and the Astro-Physicians.”

It’s worth noting, too, that Joe was complete class all the while he was working with The Pogues.  He never let anyone forget Shane MacGowan (used to say he was “just keeping the seat warm”), never let the band think he was joining them permanently, never got anyone else tangled up in his contract problems, and handled Shane and his issues like no one else could have.  Classic example of how very top-shelf Joe always was.

Photo
whatwouldjoestrummerdo:

Hello, and welcome to What Would Joe Strummer Do?
This is a mostly-silly, occasionally-serious “advice” blog (we use the term loosely) full of doodles and ridiculousness.  Your questions are more than welcome, and will be answered both in words and with drawings featuring Joe Strummer and occasional guest appearances by the rest of The Clash and friends.  Have a problem in your life that only the Punk Rock Warlord himself can solve?  Feel free to drop us a line!
Our ask box is officially open as of today. There’ll be a two-week break while we collect questions and work on responses, so shoot us anything you’d like; after that, the ask box will (of course) stay open, but we’ll begin posting!
Guidelines for asking questions are here.About us is here.

So this is our next project.  Joe Strummer!  Dreadful advice!  Ridiculous cartoons!  An askblog completely dependent on audience participation!
Do you need some advice from a hapless crowd of young British punks and the voice of a generation?  If so, please send some asks our way!

whatwouldjoestrummerdo:

Hello, and welcome to What Would Joe Strummer Do?

This is a mostly-silly, occasionally-serious “advice” blog (we use the term loosely) full of doodles and ridiculousness.  Your questions are more than welcome, and will be answered both in words and with drawings featuring Joe Strummer and occasional guest appearances by the rest of The Clash and friends.  Have a problem in your life that only the Punk Rock Warlord himself can solve?  Feel free to drop us a line!

Our ask box is officially open as of today. There’ll be a two-week break while we collect questions and work on responses, so shoot us anything you’d like; after that, the ask box will (of course) stay open, but we’ll begin posting!

Guidelines for asking questions are here.
About us is here.

So this is our next project.  Joe Strummer!  Dreadful advice!  Ridiculous cartoons!  An askblog completely dependent on audience participation!

Do you need some advice from a hapless crowd of young British punks and the voice of a generation?  If so, please send some asks our way!

Text

hey, you guys that live in the northeastern United States can I just tell you about a thing

because on January 29th, Pete Hook (bassist for Joy Division and New Order; frontman for Peter Hook and The Light) is going to be in New York doing a signing of his new Joy Division book

(he’s got a whole two-week tour of major American cities; check this out if you’re not near New York)

but then after that, on the same goddamned day

the Strummerville foundation (set up in memory of Joe Strummer to support music development around the world) are having a benefit show at the Bowery Electric, celebrating the life and music of Joe Strummer and The Clash

and the book signing is free and the gig is twenty dollars a person

and these are musicians that changed the face of the entire music world forever

and we are not going to talk about how absolutely gutted I am that I live less than three hours from New York and can’t get there how I have the most incredible boyfriend in the entire world ever and we are going to New York for the book signing and the concert because he can work miracles apparently

but we are, we are going to talk about how amazing these people are (you already know how I feel about Joe Strummer, and if you don’t yet know how I feel about Joy Division and The Clash, you, uh, may want to think twice about unleashing that avalanche)

and we are going to talk about the fact that this is kind of a mind-blowing opportunity and it’s never going to happen again and if there is any possible way that you can make it to New York for this stuff

you should go.

so, uh, this is a signal boost, I guess.

and if you do go, please tell me about it. but maybe not until afterward, because of that whole gutted thing you can say hi to me and Giles because we are going to be there

Text

Joe Strummer, R.I.Punk, 1952-2002

Today, on the tenth anniversary of his death, let me tell you about Joe Strummer.

Not his life. You can find that anywhere, and hundreds of people have already done a better job than I ever could. Anyway, he wouldn’t have cared about that, it always seemed surreal to him that anyone knew about what went on in his life, what mattered to him – and that was after years of living in a tiny tour bus with a cadre of band members, friends, journalists; he was surrounded by people, always, and yet it seemed so strange to him that people cared as much about him as they did about his message.

He cared, though. About people, about music, about family; about the way things were going, politically; about the way people were being treated by others and by the world at large; about never taking himself too seriously; about always seeing that he never had anything others didn’t. See, that’s the thing about Joe Strummer, the thing that lasts after everything else is gone. After the music that defined his life and changed the face of the scene forever; after the political rebellion; after the mixing and merging of cultures from across the world; after all that, the heart of Joe Strummer is that he cared.

And now he’s ten years gone, and the standard funereal platitudes don’t work for him. You can’t say he can never be replaced. You can’t say there’ll never be anyone like him. You can’t say he left a hole in the world that can never be filled, because Joe’s real legacy isn’t music or stories or nights huddled around campfires on cold hillsides at festivals. His real legacy is that he made you want to be better. He made you want to be like him. He made you want to take a stand against everything unfair in the world; he made you want to inspire someone else to greatness; he made you want to be generous and ridiculous and kind and bizarre and caring and laid-back and wonderful. He made a thousand people like him, a hundred thousand people to fill that hole in the world. And it hasn’t stopped. Ten years on, Joe Strummer is still changing the world, making it better.

If I die one-tenth the man Joe Strummer was, it will be because of him, and I will be proud.

Let me tell you about the way Joe was with Paul Simonon, the way he made sure Paul was never left behind, even in the heyday of The Clash when everything was completely mad and nobody had any time for anything but writing and rehearsing and interviewing and arguing over set lists. Or the way Joe spent all his food money for three days buying Paul sunglasses because he was getting himself a pair and wasn’t going to leave his mate behind. Or the way Paul looked for closure for a year after Joe’s death, called him his brother, his older brother, over and over again, the way Paul missed him.

Let me tell you about the way Joe was with Nicky Headon, the way he defended him against any and all comers, regardless of the accusation; didn’t even matter if it was true, Joe wasn’t going to let anyone speak against Nick, that was a job for the people who loved him and no one else. Or the way he covered for him, giving a not-quite-false, not-at-all-true reason for his departure from The Clash and refusing to tell the real story. Or the way he carried Nicky’s picture in his wallet for years afterward, hated that decision more than any other one he’d ever made.

Let me not tell you about the way Joe was with Mick Jones, because that’s a story that can never properly be told from the outside, the way they went from strangers to friends to inseparable to hero worship to divided and then back, back to friends, because they couldn’t keep away from one another, Joe cared too much and was too lost and maybe it was too much, for a little while, but they moved on. Didn’t go back, didn’t look at what had happened and apologize, just pulled back together because it wasn’t right, not getting on, and Joe sank into quiet sadness, Big Chief Thundercloud, and couldn’t let go of any of it until he’d been back to Mick and said, this isn’t all right, let’s not do this. That’s not a story for the telling, not by anyone but the two of them, so let me not tell you about Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, but let me tell you about Joe Strummer.

Let me tell you about the way Joe was with friends and family and strangers alike, the way he’d always cram as many punk kids as he could into the green room after a show, the way he’d go down the pub with total strangers after playing, the way he’d interact with the audience, trading shirts and punches with absolute sincerity. He’d ask to buy a stranger’s jacket right off his back and no hard feelings if the other fellow said no; he’d visit relative after relative, keeping an extensive family tree in his pocket to show his friends who they all were; he’d send gifts and spend nights and share self-deprecating jokes and hug and hold and never want to leave or let go, ever, because no one’s heart was ever as big as Joe Strummer’s.

Let me tell you about the way Joe was about life, that it had to be lived and loved and embraced, that it didn’t matter what other people thought or what they told you to do, life was yours and you had to live it. He’d say, “people can do anything,” he’d say, “the future is unwritten,” he’d say, “you’ve got to be slightly stupid,” he’d say to live your life, feel what you wanted to feel, not worry about things, not hold back, not look to the past, go, be, live.

You might not realize that Joe Strummer has changed your life, but if you listen to music, then he has. If you’ve ever heard a song that mattered to you, not just for entertainment but really, bone-deep, soul-deep mattered, then he has. If you’ve ever touched into punk, reggae, ska, dub, funk, jazz, blues, soul, world, anything, if you’ve ever heard something and said, what’s that, I need more, then he has. If you’ve ever been to a music festival and sat around a campfire in the freezing rain, eating cold beans out of a tin you opened with a penknife because somebody forgot the tin opener, arguing about live performances or guitar techniques or who was supposed to have brought the blankets, then he has. If you’ve ever known anyone who’s heard his music, heard his stories, and if they’ve ever affected your life in any way, then he has.

I owe a lot to Joe Strummer, and I’d be proud to spend the rest of my life trying to be more like him, trying to care about what matters and leave aside what doesn’t, trying to love as widely and as well as he did, trying to live by his example.

(I made an album for you guys; you can download it here. If you like it, or if any of Joe’s music or anything he’s ever done has affected or inspired you and you’d like to give back, here’s a link to Strummerville, the foundation set up in his honour to promote and support new music across the globe.)