Saturday, December 22, 2012

Strummer's In Heaven (SoundCloud Bonus Tune & Bonus Video Saturday Night)

Joe Strummer - spark-spitting lead singer/resident rock & roll genius of The Clash, The Latino Rockabilly War and The Mescaleros - died ten years ago today, three days before Christmas 2002.  I can't believe it's been ten years, it seems like no time at all that we lost Strummer's force-of-nature rock & roll.  I was in New Jersey for Christmas with my lovely wife Debbie and her family when I heard the news in the car.  I remember staring uncomprehending at the radio.  How could Joe Strummer be dead?  How could that be true?  Strummer was then wholly, completely in the midst of a career renaissance.  He and his crack rock & roll crew, The Mescaleros, had cooked up a fearsome ganja-fueled brew of world music and Joe's punk-rock roots, without ever once losing sight of Memphis, Brixton or New Orleans.  On the albums Global A Go- Go and what would become the posthumous release Streetcore in 2003 Strummer was writing some of the best songs of his life.  He and The Mescaleros were a blazing live powerhouse, scorching stages all over the world.  And then he was gone.  I was still actively touring with Hamell On Trial at that time and I remember Ed calling me in Jersey and us commiserating for an hour in disbelief at the loss of Strummer.

I said back then to Hamell, "How will his family ever celebrate Christmas again?" and perhaps formed the basis of the tune below.  But later I realized that's just the point; somehow you find a way to move through pain and function in this life.  You take the inspiration and the power the person you lost has given you and try to push the resulting love & faith out into the world.  I realize Growing Old With Rock & Roll has gotten kinda heavy these last two blog entries - dealing with my dad's death and now with Joe Strummer's - and I don't intend it to, but I think the Christmas season is about remembering lost loved ones just as much as it is what we're getting under the tree. 

I sang this song onstage last night, opening a show for Colin Gawel & The Lonely Bones, and got a crowd of people to shout along with the resounding "9-9-9-9-9" refrain.  Ten years after his death the words of Joe Strummer survive in the hearts, lungs and minds of living, breathing people.  His lyrics are shouted out into the night, are bounced around all the frequencies in space, a tribute to the eternal life we are given by God and by all the gods of the rock & roll.  I'm not gonna say rest in peace here, 'cuz I know that somewhere right this very moment Joe Strummer is somewhere in this universe rockin', not resting.    

inspirational verse; "And I'm not here to mourn Joe Strummer. I'm here to try - however palely -
with this acoustic guitar to honor his memory, to try to be worthy of his legacy,
to beg for just a bit of his bravery, to try to escape the slavery of all that which is not righteous,
of all that which is not the rock & roll" - Ricki C. 2003

inspirational verse; "We'd like to sing about one of THE most important things in life,
in modern life today and that is; takeaway food." - Joe Strummer November 17th, 2002  

for that humor, for that heart, for that soul, for that Lion of Judah of rock & roll;
raise a glass tonight

(author's note: Hey kids, if you're looking for a last-minute Christmas gift for a rocker
on your list, I wouldn't quibble with your choice of The Future Is Unwritten,
a truly great, heartfelt DVD tribute to Joe, directed by Julien Temple.)

blog © 2012 Ricki C.
song © 2003 Ricki C.

No comments:

Post a Comment