Goodnight, Joe Strummer

Joe StrummerJoe Strummer is dead. If you don’t own the first Clash album and London Calling, you need to go out and get them right now. The Clash were, hands down, the greatest English punk band.

I happened to catch the Westway to the World documentary on MTV2’s otherwise insipid “25 Years of Punk” celebration a couple weeks ago, and that combined with our recent correspondence with Pennie Smith inspired me to bust out my two favorite Clash albums. London Calling was actually still in my Walkman when I woke up this morning and heard the news. It still is and probably will be for a while. It’s one of the best albums of all time.

Life goes fast. Merry fucking Christmas.

15 thoughts on “Goodnight, Joe Strummer”

  1. In “Die Another Day,” the current Bond flick, The Clash is used in the soundtrack. . .as “London Calling” is part of a Jaguar commerical. Both rather disconcerting. There is a line in the BBC report that is linked to in Jake’s piece that says, in part, that Strummer “was said to be annoyed that the defunct group’s songs overshadowed his work with new band The Mescaleros.” All I can say is that I hope that he picked up some serious cash from those two uses of his music, because if there is anything more un-Clash like. . . .

    And as for his depature: Better to burn out than to rust, right?

  2. the news hit me like a ton of bricks this morning. half awake, bleary-eyed, waiting for the coffee to brew and that’s when the snippet came on the news. strummer, dead at 50, lead singer of the influential punk rock band the clash. though, juxtaposed on the screen there was the image of a surboarding santa. how strange. how not fitting.

    after reading jake’s diatribe my thoughts go back to catching westway to the world on mtv2 the other weekend also. the one moment that really struck me and has stayed with me is joe strummer defending their album sandanista!, explaining the atmosphere and the friendship between all the members of the clash that brought it together. i always dismissed that album, especially compared to london calling or the clash. though, i think i’ll have to go back and hear it again for the first time. this time with my eyes and ears wide open to all the possibilities that music brings to us. maybe through some of the confusion that comes with joe passing i’ll be able to make sense of some of the confusion of that album.

  3. Joe, like all other humans, had his faults but I can’t think of another ‘rock n roll’ star who was more down to earth and human than him. When Joey died I was shocked but this saddens me even more.

    Three weeks ago he played a gig for striking firemen and was fantastic, full of energy and life.

    We’ve lost a performer with integrity and there ain’t many of those around.

  4. He was one of my heroes in my youth. He was really good. And even though in my adulthood I don’t so much enjoy all that communism stuff, I must admit that it worked in context. Still, the worst thing about Sandinista! was the title of the record. The next worst thing was all the bad songs. It was a 3 record set and as I recall priced as a single LP (they were great friends of the oppressed and impoverished record consumer) but would have been remembered more fondly if they had cut the crap and released it as one 2 sided record.

    I saw him play once. I was almost 15 and went to see my favorite band, The Who, at Shea Stadium on their “farewell tour” in 19 and 82. I was very happy at the time that The Clash, who opened, played for about an hour and did lots of stuff from their first album, which I had played so much in 9th grade that I wore the record out. After the first couple of songs, Ol Joe removed his ski cap to reveal a Mohawk, which was greeted with gasps and cheers. In their latest 2 records, The Clash had been moving away from their earlier punk stuff and were playing some songs that people like me considered “disco”, so the mohawk and song selection seemed to be a statement that they were going back to their punk roots. Later in the evening The Who opened with Substitute and played Tatoo. Couple months later, the same show was displayed daily on MTV, in the Should I stay or Should I go video.

  5. “Rudy Can’t Fail” was also used in the John Cusack movie, “Gross Pointe Blank.” The Jaguar commercial just seemed sort of subversive to me; with its apocalyptic theme, it seemed to suggest, “Sure Jag owners, use me in your ad, but you’ll get yours someday when the Thames and the revolution rise and you’re all sent to the guillotines.”

    I think the Clash are one of the top three English bands ever alongside the Rolling Stones and the Beatles (the order changes with my mood). Joe Strummer’s voice is everything rock and roll is all about.

    My favorite scenes from the Westway doc were where Strummer was regretting kicking out Mick Jones and advising young bands to try to hold it together no matter what because when there’s something magic between members of a band, if you fuck with it, the magic’s gone. He seemed genuinely sad about it. Very touching.

  6. God, what a punch in the stomach this news is. I know how trite it is to say that the Clash was, is, and forever shall be the finest punk group, but it’s true. Fuck… it’s gonna be a blue Christmas, or at least tinged with blue.

    I mean, I’m not gonna canonize the guy; he was partly responsible for the high crime against art that was Cut The Crap, but at the same time, he took the high road more often than not, making artistic decisions based on a sense of integrity that never seemed to waver too much. And it is still a thrill to watch Mystery Train, with all of its idiosyncracies and Joe’s laconic dialogue. Although now more than ever, I regret never having seen the Mescaleros.

    Joe, you will be missed. The Clash is Dead, Long Live The Clash.

  7. Don’t forget Joe in Mystery Train, the Jim Jarmusch film. That was a great performance. No doubt about it, Joe was a guy you could look up to.

  8. What the Fu…?

    I don’t even know what to think of this. He was 50. What happened?

    I never got to see him play live, and I regret it. The same way that over the years I passed up chances to see the Ramones. I’m sitting at work staring at my computer and I feel sick.

    What the hell?

  9. I’m not all teary-eyed or anything, I only knew him as a musician. But I think I speak for all of us when I say, atleast music-wise, he will be missed. I felt bad when two Ramones in a year died, but this was definitely a shock. He deserves proper tribute for being one of the most important musicians of our generation.

  10. It’s been a week now, and I still don’t know what to say or how to feel. It seems weird to get all misty about a guy you didn’t know excep tthrough his musical rantings. I miss Joe Strummer, and I feel bad that I won’t get to hear the new directions in which his muse led him. He meant a lot to me, as he meant a lot to so may of you. I guess I just want to say thanks for the music and the passion. Happy New Year, ya’ bunch of music obsessives, and Happy New Year Joe Strummer, wherever you are.


  11. I’m really glad myself and one of me mates went to see him in April.

    He and the Mesceleros were amazing that night.

    I’ll never forget jumping the security barrier and tumbling into the pit as he kicked into the opening powerchords of I Fought The Law.

    And seeing all the old faded sweaty Clash t-shirts all over Dublin after the gig, brilliant memories.

    He inspired me to form a band and to sing awful covers of Clash tunes.

    If you are a fan of London Calling I would recommend both Mesceleros albums, “Rock, Art and the X-Ray Style” and “Global a Go-Go”.

    The musics inspired.

    Hey Jake, I think Strummer was in charge of that whole soundtrack for that movie, not sure though.

    Those last scenes of Westway are something else-

    …”you’ve gotta have some regrets”.

    “And every gimmick hungry yob,

    Diggin’ gold from rock n roll

    Grabs the mike to tell us he’ll

    Die before he’s sold,

    But I believe in this and it’s

    Been tested by research

    He who fucks nuns will later join the church.”

    -“Death or Glory”

  12. to the friends and family of joe strummer,

    joe was a great muscician and a great man. he has inspired me and the guys in my band tremendously. i mourn the lose of joe strummer and i will never forget his musical accomplishments.

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