The Corner

Joe Strummer, Rip

I was sad to see that Joe Strummer had died. I was a fan of the Clash from early on, even before they were on commercial radio. There were a lot of politically motivated punk bands I was into back then (e.g. the Gang of Four and the Dead Kennedys) because, despite their ideological bent, they could crank out great tunes. I used to take heat from Lefties who objected to me enjoying the music while not buying (and frequently mocking) the political message. They thought these bands were popular because of their social relevance. But most kids just wanted to dance. And the biggest Clash hits, like “Train in Vain” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go” had nothing to do with politics. And the first song over the airwaves of the US Armed Forces radio station set up in Saudi to bolster troop morale in the weeks leading up to Desert Storm was “Rock the Casbah.” (Note that in November 2001, Strummer came out strongly against the 9/11 terrorists, stating: “I think you have to grow up and realize that we’re facing religious fanatics who would kill everyone in the world who doesn’t do what they say. The more time you give them the more bombs they’ll get.”)

Now, decades after the Clash hit the scene, the Revolution is a youthful ideal spoken of with some embarrassment by our radical contemporaries, and punk rock sells luxury cars. Be sure to check out “Brand New Cadillac” on London Calling, which may be coming to a TV commercial someday soon, not to mention being one of my all time favorite songs to play louder than the neighbors would like.


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