I grew up with the Clash. I just loved their raw honesty and that wicked ska punk sound and restless energy. And hell! Who could resist skin tight hip hugging black jeans, those crazy belts, and razored shirts!
I however did not know much about them as people but got an inkling of their politics. I was far to busy with the shallow end of the punk affair, unavoidable really when you are a kid growing up in clean safe ole sanitized Ottawa recovering from a suburban love of Led Zeppelin and Blue Oyster Cult. My first punk experience was overwhelming. I was 16, downtown with my boyfriend John at the time. We went to this party, and women had b-52 haircuts and crazy retro dresses, leather heather was staffing the bedroom with her whip, skinny boys with makeup and that sound, noise, dirt and just plain ole eccentricness bit me! For me, us, it was the outfits, the black eyeliner, the dyed hair, ripped t-shirts and the rebellious scene along with the right to collective debaucherous misbehaviour!
I just read some bits about Joe Strummer, and well, he is my hero. According to my pal Tim Devries, Joe Strummer was as honest and as vulnerable as it gets, he wanted to stay honest and fame tempered with his honesty. Or as I paraphrase Iggy Pop from a scene in a punk documentary I was watched - fame is perilous and a killer.
According to U2’s Bono
"There was a moment where the world stopped," "1976, 1977. Suddenly ideas became more important than guitar solos. And a certain integrity became more important than driving a Rolls Royce into a swimming pool."
Bono recounts how at an early Clash gig he attended, the stage’s backdrop photo of London bobbies with truncheons looked like Belfast to an Irish audience. "It was a very, very, very tense moment as this backdrop opened up. And there was a real sense of jeopardy, there was a violence in the air. I was terrified. I was excited. And rock ‘n’ roll was not entertainment in that moment. It was not a matter of life and death, [but] something much more serious."
Later in a TV interview with Jeanne Beker.
The Clash are hellcats at this point, showing signs of wear but still bigger than big and touring America. "We give it all we got, that’s all," he says. "It’s as simple as that. Everybody’s used to paying $8 and getting half measures, and going home satisfied. Well, in England, they gave up being satisfied four years ago. You gotta give it all you got or forget it."
I like that! I think that is how mediocrity seeps into culture, suddenly we are mortgaged to the hilt, we settle, we are comfortable, we have stuff to pay, we are investing in pensionable time, and so we are satisfied with less than great, good, or honest. We seek perfection in the wrong places, looks, status, marriage, our kids, but we miss the subtle imperfections that make us weak, lead us to making mistakes to going off course when perhaps, that is right where we need to be going. Goodness and integrity starts to make us uncomfortable, we label it as self righteousness, we avoid those people, as they just threaten the surreality of what we have given into - instead of embracing some inconsistencies we label them has hypocrisy and strive for universal nothingness.
After emerging from the miasma of fame, Joe discovered or re-discovered his roots.
Many refer to the post-Clash years as Strummer’s wilderness period, his lost years. But by the 1990s, he was formulating a kind of practical philosophy, symbolized by endless talks around campfires. For Strummer, the campfires like those you might find on the fringes of the U.K.’s Glastonbury Festival were a common ground for exchanging ideas, allowing the punk ethos to mature for him into warm humanism.
"The campfire for him was a fantastic emblem of people being equal in the firelight. No one is more important than other people. He refused to be a prisoner of fame, in a practical way … He went out and really wanted to meet and mix and have a normal life as a human being. It wasn’t just talking it, but living what you believed in," Temple says.
Now! My 13 year old discored the Clash when he was 11 and fortunately i get to re-listen to the whole thing again, and he just grew out of those same exact outfits! Eh oui! Le plus que sa change le plus que c’est la meme chose.