Round the Dial
Thursday 26 December @ 17:05:03
by Tom Hallett
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Listen—before we play anything, we’d like to ask you one favor: please don’t spit on us. We’re just trying to do something good up here and it throws us off our stride...” -
SONG OF THE WEEK: “Death Is A Star”
R.I.P. Joe Strummer: 101’ers/The Clash/Mescaleros singer/songwriter/rhythm guitarist, of a heart attack, 1952-2002.
Right on! Just in time for the holiday season, it’s another DEAD ROCKER!! And not only a dead rocker, but one who actually gave a %@!#$& about the rest of the world and tried to do something about it- politically, socially, and generally, with his music and his personal life. A cat who saw wrong, and wasn’t afraid to expose it. A guy who loved ALL good music, and saw no reason why fans couldn’t expand their tastes and grow and learn and strive for a common good. Just what we all needed to help put the wicked drabness of 2002 behind us and face the uncertain bleakness of the most horrific political and musical landscape we’ve seen in over a decade, eh? Who’ll carry on the tradition? Who’ll plug in and bellow about the emperor’s new clothes? Who’ll be honest about how bored they are with the U.S.A.? Who’ll poke fun at our fatcat, oil-slurpin’ sheik allies? Who’ll help end today’s phony Britney-mania? Well, nothing we can do but hope for the best, play the man’s albums, gather ‘round a pint or a spliff, and swap stories- after all, memories are all any of us really leave behind, and Joe Strummer has touched more people with his music and deeds than most of us ever will. And honestly, The Clash’s music was so infectious, so raucous, so inherently hopeful (even though much of the subject matter was not), that I’d be hard-pressed to find one of their tunes I could sit and cry to. I think Joe would rather we blast the grand, powerful, world-changing sounds he helped create and celebrate his legacy by continuing his mission of promoting positive change through whatever medium and means we can. So rather than fill my limited allotted weekly space with the history of punk rock, and the Clash, and where the whole thing eventually took us musically (Is there really anybody left out there who needs to know but doesn’t? Don’t worry, there’ll be The Clash’s Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction in March, 2003 -a little late for Joe, but that’s how it goes, huh?- and plenty of “Tributes” and “Behind The Music” episodes to fill ya in), I’m just gonna toss out my Top Ten Reasons I Love The Clash and then throw this column over to some local musicians/scene-makers for their personal memories and anecdotes.
Top Ten Reasons I Love The Clash:
1) For gleefully degenerating the faithful with that crazy Casbah sound and introducing the term “Shareef” into the English lexicon.
2) That undeniable, punk-a-raga-licious groove I feel as I stroll through Cub Foods at 2AM with “Lost In The Supermarket” snaking its way through my head.
3) Finding that “Best Of The Clash” mix tape I made my girlfriend a couple years ago in the third used car she’s had since I gave her the tape- that’s dedication, man!
4) For dragging Lester Bangs around England and showing him that loud, brash, anti-establishment, amp-blowing punk rockers could be as smart, funny, and warm as the next guy: “...it wasn’t necessary to do any boring interviews with them about politics or the class system,” he wrote in Creem Magazine, “because here at last is a band which not only preaches something good but practices it as well, that instead of talking about changes in social behavior puts the model of a truly egalitarian society into practice in their own conduct.”
5) Watching my 13-year-old son hop madly around the house while “Rudy Can’t Fail” absolutely shreds the speakers.
6) Hopping madly around the house myself while “Police On My Back” absolutely shreds the speakers.
7) The night Mike Leonard dragged me outta the Turf Club cuz I just HAD to hear the new Strummer & The Mescaleros album, and he cranked that mutha louder than any car jamming I’ve had the pleasure of melting to since high school- I knew right then that Joe was far from done with his musical journey.
8) Dark, hazy tales of the band wandering the deserts of Texas in search of American musicians and peyote plants.
9) “Train In Vain” not being listed on the album jacket.
10) Turning me on to Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh, Desmond Dekker, Two-Tone, Fishbone, and about seventy-seven kickass ska bands I would’ve never heard of without the Clash’s musical tip-offs back in the day. Thanks, Joe Strummer. Death or glory, brother. Thanks for “Tommy Gun,” from Tommy Gunn. Thanks for makin’ us believe that, like Rudy, we can’t fail. And thanks for warnin’ me ‘bout them “Police On My Back.” I never did like that Shareef...
LOCAL MUSICIANS/SCENE-MAKERS’ JOE STRUMMER MEMORIES:
By: Tom “Drummer Guy” Cook, Magnolias, Blue Violets, Fantasy Radio WDMR: “When I first saw these guys on T.V., I noticed that they had really bad teeth. And I thought, “Man, these guys are great!” So I went out and bought the record Give ‘Em Enough Rope- that had “Tommy Gun” on it- so musically, that’s how they gripped me first. Also, a local band called Ipso Facto had the pleasure of warmin’ ‘em up at the (St. Paul) Civic Center. And I believe that was in like, 1980 or 1981. I believe they were the only local band to ever warm them up. Then of course Strummer starred in that movie Straight To Hell, and there was The Clash On Broadway. This is a drag, man. That’s a huge loss, that was some good-spirited rock. What do we have now, Ryan Adams? There are some young bands around town doing some good stuff, though. There’s a band called The Dank, they do a lot of reggae-influenced stuff, when you close your eyes, you hear the Clash. They mix up the reggae and the punk and the rock. Another band to watch for is Mutt, you’ll feel the rock spirit when they play. These guys are just sweaty when they’re done playing. This band Tall Pete has some really good songs too. All local bands.”
THE RIGHT PROFILE:
By: John Freeman, singer/guitarist, Magnolias, Action Alert: “When The Clash played the old Civic Center in September of 1979, I had a ticket but I went down to the concert early. And I got there at like, four-thirty in the afternoon. I walked in through a side door and down this tunnel, and there they are, onstage playing. They’re doing stuff like “Clampdown” from London Calling, which hadn’t come out yet. And then of course, that night they played a lot of stuff from that album. The Undertones were opening up, David Johannsen was in the middle, and then The Clash. And I was like, well, I’ve got a ticket, but I’m just gonna hang out. So I kinda just sat up a few rows in the stands, and The Undertones were on the other side of the auditorium jumping up and down. And Joe Strummer is walking over to the soundboard, and one of the Sims security guards stops him and says something to him, and then gestures towards me, sitting up four or five rows off the floor. And Joe just looks at me and he looks at the Sims guy and nods his head yes. And the security guard walked away and Joe looked up at me, and I just gave him a thumbs-up. That was really cool. And I got to go backstage later and talk to him, and he was a real nice guy. I loved the Clash, couldn’t get enough of ‘em. They were generally known to bend over backwards for their fans, they wanted to meet ‘em.”
DROOL ‘EM, BOYO:
By: Rich Mattson, singer/guitarist, Glenrustles, Ol’ Yeller, local soundguy: “Danny Commando told me Joe Strummer died today. I have only met one person that didn’t appreciate the Clash (I forgot who it was), but my favorite image of the man is from those live scenes from “Rude Boy”, where the drool is running down his chin and he’s holding his head like it’s about to burst. I remember waking up every day of my senior year to my younger brother playing “The Crooked Beat” from Sandinista—”dooma dooma dooma doi, ba dooma doi...,” always mystified at how they filled up 3 platters with these crazy foreign sounds. I wormed my way backstage at a Clash show in ‘84, when it was “Joe’s Clash” (the CUT THE CRAP tour). He had a mohawk at the time and he was so cool and all the kids idolized him. I couldn’t say much but ask for an autograph on my ticket stub. Best concert souvenir I ever got. The last time I saw him was at that Lifter Puller show he attended around 3 years ago (I was doing sound). Sure, he was drunk as hell, but so full of spirit, rocking out to the band by the side of the stage, having a great time. Joe Strummer was a great, great man.”
That’s it for this week, kids. Raise a pint and give a hoo-hoo for Joe tonight- you know he’d do it for you. Until next year- make yer own damn news.
If you have local music news/gigs/events, or you’d just like to fill my stocking with holiday cheer, send replies to: TMygunn777@aol.com.