Joe Strummer Appreciation DayMarch 28, 2009
For me anyway…
I just got around to watching The Future is Unwritten and remembered how much I appreciated Joe Strummer’s music and cultural/political outlook throughout the years. He was the person – via The Clash – that made me aware of the world at large and what was going on in it as a teenager. I probably wouldn’t have known anything about what was going on in Central America if I didn’t become obsessed with the album Sandinista! after my Mom bought it for me for Christmas one year (I begged her, thinking she’d take one look at the cover and buy something safer instead. Thanks, Mom!). I wanted to know what the songs and liner notes were about and it led me down the garden-path to leftist politics, at the tender age of sixteen or so. Take that, Tipper Gore!
It was a punch to the gut when he died. Even though I hadn’t followed his latest musical projects that closely, I became a fan of his radio stints, where he would offer these free-wheeling excursions into music from all over the world. It made it obvious that despite his aspirations to rock stardom in The Clash, he simply loved music and its ability to give voice to people and their struggles the world over. It made some of his global hodge-podges on Clash records and subsequent bands – some more successful than others – make much more sense. He saw music as a unifying force and the people’s megaphone for change.
Here’s an open dex of his BBC radio show London Calling, reprised in 2007 with intros and outros mentioning the five year anniversary of his passing. These shows are great. Joe plays music from all over the world and across timelines. They’re rather brief, but he talks about why the songs matter to us.
Here’s a guest slot he did on WFMU in 2001, not long before his untimely death.