"Good music is good music, and that should be enough for anybody.” - Brad Nowell

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Some things you can't explain away..." Joe Strummer 1952 - 2002

A fateful day, 8 years ago, the world at large lost one of its greatest contributors to music, poetry, progressive social reform, and popular culture: John Graham Mellor, better known as "Joe Strummer" co-founder of The Clash and frontman for Joe Strummer & The Mescalaros.  Whether it's felt or not, Joe left a mark on every musician and music fan from the 1970's going forward.  Unlimited artists cite The Clash as a huge influence with such accomplishments as their boisterous, bloody contribution to early punk rock with "White Riot" or, amongst many choice selections, the broken hearted, infectious radio favorite "Train in Vain."  Many owe thanks to the non-genre-specific song writing of Joe, especially today's reggae-rock scene.

Joe Strummer mural, NYC 2010 Bobby Clark, doeslikemusic.com

Reggae rock wasn't so popular, or even around, rather, in the late 70's/early 80's, but when The Clash put out "Guns of Brixton" and "Rudy Can't Fail", for example, off of London Calling(1979), the seeds of Operation Ivy were sown to flower forth Sublime.  Southern California's cottage industry music scene owes almost everything to Sublime, but if you trace its roots backwards, Joe Strummer was as much as an influence as Bob Marley was to Bradley Nowell.  Whether you know this or not, Joe Strummer put out a cover of Marley's "Redemption Song" performed with American legend, Johnny Cash.

Ever heard M.I.A.'s "Paperplanes?" Who hasn't?  That really awesome part that really made/makes the song stand out from everything else on the radio when it came out, besides the cash registers, was a sample of The Clash's "Straight to Hell."  Crazy, right? M.I.A.'s song has been covered by a band featuring Tom Morello(Rage Against The Machine/Audioslave) and also sampled/remixed by Kid Cudi.  Talk about trickling down.  "Straight to Hell" has been covered directly by Boston's The Street Dogs and Scranton's The Menzingers.

The Clash_STRAIGHT TO HELL by KingsWithoutCrowns

Lyrics of social strife, injustice, political commentary, love and life were building material for Joe's songs.  The world may dance to such hits as "Rock the Casbah" without taking a deeper look at what story the lyrics lay forth, and, really, that's okay.  Many have listened.  Somebody is bound to inquire, again.  Joe will live on via his many works and impressions on those he's influenced.  We have yet to see if another voice in the world has the mind of somebody like Joe to back it up; he is sorely missed and will never be replaced. 

Below: Joe Strummer and the Mescalaros "Coma Girl"& Joe Strummer and the Mescalaros' "Coma Girl"


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