Tuesday, April 03, 2007

We Miss You Mr Joe...


Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a big fan of those quirky little programmes that Radio 4 does so well. Great Lives is one such programme, and I almost squealed with pleasure to find that today's subject was Joe Strummer, former frontman of The Clash. Phil Jupitus was discussing Strummer's life and influences, along with Chris Salewicz, Strummer's biographer. I hold a great respect for Matthew Parris, the interviewer, despite his toriness. He is a marvellous interviewer - respectful, knowledgeable and probing.


The programme was a delight. Parris suggested that punk was borne out of a rage at the prevailing zeitgeist, and in this respect had much in common with Thatcherism. I think this is a very dubious argument, by the way, but was tickled at the image he describes of trying to persuade Thatch to listen to The Clash and to court the punk vote. I suspect most punk rockers didn't vote. Anarchy was the thing then, and you don't pop in to vote tory on your way to your anarcho-syndicalist cell meeting. However, Chris Salewicz talked of the strange friendship that Strummer struck up with Boris Johnson a few years before his death. Sandinista was apparently Johnson's favourite album. He has always loved irony, I suspect, and surely that particular one wasn't lost on him? Apparently they would write to each other regularly, and Strummer would try and get his poetry published in The Spectator. Wouldn't you have loved to see that?

Strummer never lost his political passion. He didn't become a property developer in New York, or play the pseudo punk in the Australian jungle for cheap publicity and even cheaper laughs. He was a man of principle. And he wrote some top songs aswell.


Image: www.twitchfilm.net/pics/Joe-Strummer.jpg

20 comments:

Boris said...

God you're fast.

I can't read as fast as you can write. Especially since I now feel compelled to proof read everything I write!

I shall now go and read your blog and do a proper comment.

Boris

Ms Melancholy said...

Sorry Boris. Having a bit of a splurge tonight, aren't I? You must listen again to the programme though. It was fab.

Boris said...

Yes Ms M, he was a top guy. And The Clash were a top group. I have quite a few of their records up in the attic, well away from leaky pipes and the like of course.

Boris

Boris said...

You are TOO TOO fast Ms M. But as you are on line please tell us more about that SEXY acupuncturist.

Boris

Stray said...

ooh - yes, more about the sexy acupuncturist please!

gonna download this and have a listen :)

Sx

Ms Melancholy said...

Boris, my dear, I can't possibly. He may read my blog and then where would I be? Most embarrassed, and probably in trouble with Mrs Acupuncturist. Don't worry - I am totally harmless. All mouth and no trousers, as we say in Yorkshire.

xxx

Boris said...

It's two against one Ms M, now you have to. And I don't care that it's your blog.

Boris

Boris said...

Damn and blast you were too fast AGAIN!!

Boris

Ms Melancholy said...

Ha!

Dandelion said...

I loved him for his pronunciation. You've inspired me to play some - a delight.

The Moon Topples said...

I was, by sheer coincidence, listening to both Streetcore (his last record, released posthumously) and the 101ers (his pre-Clash band) today.

I rank him among the greats. He not only (as you've pointed out) never lost his politics, he never lost his curiosity or his passion. Rare things to keep, especially in a public life.

I've always found it ironic that he died of heart failure.

I'll stop before I music geek you to death. Just happy to see someone else mentioning him, and I had no choice but to comment.

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi Dandelion - unfortunately I lost all of my Clash in the great freezer flood, not that I have anything to play vinyl on these days. But it reminds me of going to Spain with my son when he was quite little. I had been singing 'Spanish Bombs' for weeks before we went, and he was singing it to himself as we arrived. So funny, to hear a 4 yr old singing Joe Strummer!

Mr Moon, it is always a pleasure when you visit. I apologise for the British cultural references - Boris Johnson is a rogue tory MP, known for his eccentricity and his lack of shame at expressing quite extreme views at times. It is odd to think of him and Strummer striking up a correspondence. And he most certainly would not have supported the Sandinistas against Somoza. I learnt from the programme that Strummer died of a congenital heart condition, that could have got him at any time. Listen to the programme via the link, if you can. It is lovely.

That's so pants said...

Thanks for the link Ms M - sad but lovely.

nmj said...

Ms M, I loved the Clash, horrible when Joe Strummer died, I am lsitening to your link now...(I did see Big Audio Dynamite in Boston in 1987 in a wee informal club, well that is my memory, seemed very small, not a big showy off gig.)

nmj said...

I didn't know his brother had commited suicide, how sad. Now I want to listen to the Clash really loud but it is after 11pm, & I complain so much about students' noise next door, I can't go breaking the rules!

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi nmj - BAD in a small club in Boston sounds wonderful. Play your Clash loud tomorrow and pogo away!

Paul said...

My daughter (who uses a wheelchair) is a huge fan of the "Bare Naked Ladies." She went to a gig of theirs a few years ago with a friend. Anyway, they managed to blag their way back-stage. Joe Strummer broke away from the people he was talking to, walked over to them and introduced himself. Neither of the girls really knew who he was, though they'd heard of the Clash and knew some of their music. My daughter told him she loved the "BNLs." Joe immediately whisked them off, in search for the "BNLs." When he eventually found them he introduced the girls to each of the members of the group and then went back to his friends. I don't really need to say any more than that.

bobo said...

Being a bit snooty about punk, I'm just amused at the public school boy punk icon having a go at public school boy prog rock bands like Genesis, whilst getting in taxies to go and have their agitated posy pictures taken against bleak council estate backdrops, of whose lives they knew nothing, while Toryboys pogoed by night and worked for Mrs Thatcher by day. Rock n Roll.

Basically we're talking Rik from the Young Ones with a nicer voice trying to be Vyvyan. Snoot Snoot.

paul said...

p.s. For the more cynical, who might wonder why I mentioned my daughter's wheelchair. It is because I worry about her when she travels. She has had so many misadventures with rail companies and occassionally with taxi drivers. She is often dependent on the kindness of strangers. Joe Strummer was one of the strangers who was kind, without treating it as a photo opportunity.

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi Paul, that's a lovely story. I get the feeling that he was a really good bloke, and you have just confirmed that.

Hi BoBo, they talked about that in the documentary, of people 'reverting to type' and becoming merchant bankers or property developers after their dalliance with punk. Strummer was an exception. He lived his principles, and they continue to live on after his death with a foundation set up by his widow for struggling musicians. And wasn't Rik from the Young Ones a satire on exactly that? Or is that what you are saying???!