Today is the ten year anniversary of Joe Strummer’s death. A few days after he passed, I posted this in my LiveJournal:
Subject: i will always believe in punk rock because its about creating something for yourself -joe strummer
Music: Westway to the World.
Time: 1:35 am.
im not really sure why ive waited till now to write this… its certainly been on my mind for the past two days, since i saw in savannah’s livejournal that joe strummer died, but i didnt know that i needed to write until now… but i think i do. joe strummer was my first fuck you hero. the clash was the band that above al introduced me to punk and being what and who they are and were, introduced me to the possiblilities of punk and reggae and rockabilly and hiphop and politics and emotion and everything in between. i remember hearing shit like rock the casbah on mtv when i was really little, or maybe it was just my dad rockin out to its memory last year… and then i bought the clash on broadway boxed set a few years ago, maybe 3? and the whole thing just blew my fucking mind. id hear the later stuff like combat rock… but then i heard the stuff off of the self-titled record, shit with titles like i’m so bored with the usa and… i’d just never heard anything like it. it sounded like how i felt and straight through three discs from straight-up punk anthem to reggae covers to rockabilly to the fuckin beatgenerationallenginsberg i was amazed and i think that they’ve been my favorite band and punk my favorite kind of music ever since. everytime i saw a band who cites the clash as an influence and hails them for the amazing band they are, i get that excited feeling in my stomach and i listen, sometimes its dissapointing, of course… but the legacy that that band has left is really just astonishing from their peers like stiff little fingers and the damned, to american punks (dont care about truth) like rancid and green day and unwritten law covering guns of brixton in brixton to a bunch of kids who dont even know what that shit is… punk rock 101 my friends. i just dont know that there’s another band that makes me as excited and tingly all over like the clash, and they’ve done that since the first times i heard them and even with joe strummer’s death they’ll still fuckin do that and that’s what’s so amazing to me and that’s what keeps his death from being the loss and the tragedy that it might be. his death will maintain the clash as everything it was and while it would have been amazing to hear mick jones and joe strummer playing together again, i wonder how pure it could have been… i mean john lydon on stage with “the sex pistols” makes me wanna stick a fork in my eye, and in a way i think that joe’s death will keep that from becoming a clash reality and part of me is thankful. let’s leave the legacy to the bands that played alongside the mescaleros on hellcat records like the distillers, dropkick murphys, tiger army, transplants and on and on and on because punk rock is about creating something for yourself and that’s the legacy that strummer should leave us. there’s so much more i could say… and so much more that wouldnt do either that man or that band justice. he created for himsef. and now its our turn.
Today, Tom Hawking published a piece at Flavorwire on “Why the Clash Really Were the Only Band that Mattered- To Me.” He’s right on about Joe Strummer and what he meant to punk rock as a movement, as an idea, as anything, but what got me most was this:
”As we get older we tend to forget how profoundly art — and, especially, music — affects us when we’re young.”
This is something I’ve been thinking about alot lately. In many ways, this is what I was talking about when I talked about missing CDs, though there I thought about change more in terms of technology and materiality, than emotion. But as I wrote by way of sharing the Hawking piece and that quote on facebook
i think its sad and stupid. ive been trying lately to both revisit old stuff that impacted me this way and to continue letting those things like books and music effect me that way. here’s to not being such a jaded and cynical film/tv studies grad student. i mean really, fuck that. and rock on joe strummer. are you going forwards or are you going backwards indeed.
In Our Town, Emily asks the Stage Manager “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it–every,every minute?” And the Stage Manager says “No. The saints and poets, maybe they do some.”
In The Sun Also Rises, Robert Cohn says to Jake Barnes “I can’t stand to think my life is going so fast and I’m not really living it.” Jake Barnes replies “Nobody ever lives their life all the way up except bull-fighters.”
And as Hawking notes, in “Silver and Gold,” Joe Strummer declares, “I’m gonna go out dancin’ every night/ I’m gonna see all the city lights/ I’ll do everything silver and gold/ I’ve got to hurry up before I grow too old.”
I think all of these authors and characters are talking not just about doing and being or experiencing and adventuring, though certainly Hemingway for one was always trying to outrun himself by just that. But I think they’re talking about feeling too. The kind of feeling you have, that I had, and sometimes still have, when I started listening to the Clash and to Joe. I think about that passion, the feeling in your stomach, the racing heart and eyes almost welling into tears at sheer… amazement, astonishment, awe. It may not be living everyevery minute, but time does, I think, slow down enough to live it and feel it and be it a little better. Maybe it’s that the saints and the poets are offering a little vicarious moment of really living. But if I learned nothing else from Joe, it’s that that’s not enough. The future is unwritten.