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a eulogy of sorts

I did not start out today intending to write a eulogy; in fact, I was not going to post from work at all today. However, the death of Joe Strummer calls for a moment of rememberance. Not silence, not that. Today, my speakers are filled with the sounds of The Clash.

When a favorite icon of your life dies - be it an actor or writer or rock star - one takes the time to reminisce and share some memories and relive -in the rock star case - a little of your life through their music.

1977 was a watershed year for me. Punk rock arrived in the USA and it forever changed the way I listened to music. Though I didn't pick up on it until the following year when I heard the Ramones on a college station, I still recognize 1977 as the year the music changed.

A friend whose uncle owned a record store lent me an import copy of Clash (UK), which hadn't been released in the US yet. It was I'm So Bored with the USA that wrapped itself around my head and never let go. Janie Jones, Remote Control...I listened to the album on my piece of crap record player over and over. I was in 11th grade. 16 years old. My friends were listening to the new hearthrob of the music scene, Bruce Springsteen. Some of them were still doing the hustle, openly engaging in disco dancing while the rest of us wore our "Disco Sucks" pins.

At the end of 1978, a friend gave me a cassette copy of Give 'em Enough Rope. Safe European Home and Tommy Gun were staples of my days and night. Sitting in my bedroom with my newer, yet still crappy stereo, those huge, cushioned, oversized headphones on, bopping my head up and down and humming punk rock tunes all to the annoyance of my parents.

This isn't so much about the songs - I could sit here all day listing which songs played on my stereo during specific times of my life - it's about what Joe Strummer and the Clash meant to me. There were times when the only sounds coming from my room or my car were The Clash or The Jam.

So many hot, sticky summer nights, sitting in my Nova, drinking beer and listening to Joe Strummer's passioned voice.

I had my first major break-up with Clampdown playing in the background.

When I threw up that entire bottle of Boonesfarm wine, Brand New Cadillac was blasting from the speakers we had set up in the park that night, before the cops came, before we were chased through the woods by snarling dogs, smelling of puke and Miller Lite. Every time I hear that song, I can recall the taste of warm beer vomit.

And even though Sandinista disappointed me, I can still recite all the words to Magnificent Seven, and I bet my sister can, too.

By the time Rock the Casbah came around and everyone was a Clash fan, I had earned the right to call myself an old school fan and maybe, just maybe, looked down upon those who thought The Clash were a "great new band."

The most telling memory of what Joe Strummer meant to me, perhaps, lies in the bottom of a box in my bedroom closet. It's a tiny stuffed chicken that someone gave me, I have no idea why. It was just one of those things. When that person, my old friend Chris, gave me the chicken and said I had to give it a name, Radio Clash was on the air and I thus named the chicken Strummer.

I guess I'll fish little Strummer out of the box today and give him a place of honor on my dresser, right next to the tattered photo of Joey Ramone.

I think you all should leave your favorite Clash lyrics here. Just for the hell of it.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference a eulogy of sorts:

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As the getting better looking every day Vicky is wrapping my presents, I have been relegated to the office (oh, [Read More]


I am pretty sure that my brother -- my 21 year-old brother -- is remembering the late Mr. Strummer with lots of Clash today as well. Probably a good deal of drinking too...

It's nice to see good music transcend generations like that, and makes the loss of Mr. Strummer just that more poignant.

Great post, Michele.

Spanish Bombs

Spanish songs in Andalucia
The shooting sites in the days of '39
Oh, please, leave the vendanna open
Fredrico Lorca is dead and gone
Bullet holes in the cemetery walls
The black cars of the Guardia Civil
Spanish bombs on the Costa Rica
I'm flying in a DC 10 tonight

Spanish bombs, yo tequierro y finito
Yote querda, oh mi corazon
Spanish bombs, yo te quierro y finito
Yo te querda, oh mi corazon

Spanish weeks in my disco casino
The freedom fighters died upon the hill
They sang the red flag
They wore the black one
But after they died it was Mockingbird Hill
Back home the buses went up in flashes
The Irish tomb was drenched in blood
Spanish bombs shatter the hotels
My senorita's rose was nipped in the bud


The hillsides ring with "Free the people"
Or can I hear the echo from the days of '39?
With trenches full of poets
The ragged army, fixin' bayonets to fight the other line
Spanish bombs rock the province
I'm hearing music from another time
Spanish bombs on the Costa Brava
I'm flying in on a DC 10 tonight
Spanish songs in Andalucia, Mandolina, oh mi corazon
Spanish songs in Granada, oh mi corazon


interrupting all programmes

this is radio clash from pirate satellite

orbiting your living room,
cashing in the bill of rights
cuban army surplus or refusing all third lights
this is radio clash on pirate satellite

this sound does not subscribe
to the international plan
in the psycho shadow of the white right hand
then that see ghettology as an urban viet nam
giving deadly exhibitions of murder by napalm

this is radio clash tearing up the seven veils
this is radio clash please save us, not the whales
this is radio clash underneath a mushroom cloud
this is radio clash
you don't need that funeral shroud

forces have been looting
my humanity
curfews have been curbing
the end of liberty

hands of law have sorted through
my identity
but now this sound is brave
and wants to be free - anyway to be free

this is radio clash on pirate satellite
this is not free europe
noh an armed force network
this is radio clash using audio ammunition
this is radio clash can we get that world to listen?
this is radio clash using aural ammunition
this is radio clash can we get that world to listen?
this is radio clash on pirate satellite
orbiting your living room,
cashing in the bill of rights
this is radio clash on pirate satellite
this is radio clash everybody hold on tight

a-riggy diggy dig dang dang

go back to urban 'nam

I was in Germany 77. I'd heard of the Sex-Pistols and listened to some of their 'music' but I wasn't clear on the concept. Wayne from Maine was the guy that insisted that I go with him to see the Jam. It all made sense after that. It was Iggy Pop! The pistols the dolls the ramones the clash the noise and the rage and the dancing (me dancing!) was all a fucking laugh riot. Thanks Wayne from Maine. Thanks Joe from the only band that mattered. Say hello to Cleveland for me.

Yup, Michele, I still know all the words. Dont know why, but its one of theose songs that makes me feel good.

The Magnificent Seven

Ring! Ring! It's 7:00 A.M.!
Move y'self to go again
Cold water in the face
Brings you back to this awful place
Knuckle merchants and you bankers, too
Must get up an' learn those rules
Weather man and the crazy chief
One says sun and one says sleet
A.M., the F.M. the P.M. too
Churning out that boogaloo
Gets you up and gets you out
But how long can you keep it up?
Gimme Honda, Gimme Sony
So cheap and real phony
Hong Kong dollars and Indian cents
English pounds and Eskimo pence

You lot! What?
Don't stop! Give it all you got!
You lot! What?
Don't stop! Yeah!

Working for a rise, better my station
Take my baby to sophistication
She's seen the ads, she thinks it's nice
Better work hard - I seen the price
Never mind that it's time for the bus
We got to work - an' you're one of us
Clocks go slow in a place of work
Minutes drag and the hours jerk

"When can I tell 'em wot I do?
In a second, maaan...oright Chuck!"

Wave bub-bub-bub-bye to the boss
It's our profit, it's his loss
But anyway lunch bells ring
Take one hour and do your thanng!

What do we have for entertainment?
Cops kickin' Gypsies on the pavement
Now the news - snap to attention!
The lunar landing of the dentist convention
Italian mobster shoots a lobster
Seafood restaurant gets out of hand
A car in the fridge
Or a fridge in the car?
Like cowboys do - in T.V. land

You lot! What? Don't stop. Huh?

So get back to work an' sweat some more
The sun will sink an' we'll get out the door
It's no good for man to work in cages
Hits the town, he drinks his wages
You're frettin', you're sweatin'
But did you notice you ain't gettin'?
Don't you ever stop long enough to start?
To take your car outta that gear
Don't you ever stop long enough to start?
To get your car outta that gear
Karlo Marx and Fredrich Engels
Came to the checkout at the 7-11
Marx was skint - but he had sense
Engels lent him the necessary pence

What have we got? Yeh-o, magnificence!!

Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi
Went to the park to check on the game
But they was murdered by the other team
Who went on to win 50-nil
You can be true, you can be false
You be given the same reward
Socrates and Milhous Nixon
Both went the same way - through the kitchen
Plato the Greek or Rin Tin Tin
Who's more famous to the billion millions?
News Flash: Vacuum Cleaner Sucks Up Budgie


For politico lyrics my pick is...

Straight to Hell

Y'wanna join in a chorus
Of the Amerasian blues?
When it's Christmas out in Ho Chi Minh City
Kiddie say papa papa papa papa-san take me home
See me got photo photo
Photograph of you
Mamma Mamma Mamma-san
Of you and Mamma Mamma Mamma-san
Lemme tell ya 'bout your blood bamboo kid.
It ain't Coca-Cola it's rice.

Straight to hell
Oh Papa-san
Please take me home
Oh Papa-san
Everybody they wanna go home
So Mamma-san says

You wanna play mind-crazed banjo
On the druggy-drag ragtime U.S.A.?
In Parkland International
Hah! Junkiedom U.S.A.
Where procaine proves the purest rock man groove
and rat poison
The volatile Molatov says-

go straight to hell, boys

for love lost lyrics it has to be

did you li-ay-ay-ay-ay when you spoke to me?

did you stand by me?

no, not at all.

You gotta drag yourself to work
Drag yourself to sleep
You're dead from the neck up
By the middle of the week

-All the Young Punks via Liquid Courage

One of the first gifts I ever bought my wife was London Calling on CD. She had everything on vinyl, but finding needles for a turntable is a nightmare nowadays. She exposed me to a lot of the more obscure Clash stuff, for which I am eternally grateful.

Fuck me.....I wanna go to whatever punk rock heaven/hell him and joey and deedee and all those other fuckers ended up. What a show!!!

What is this "Clash" that everyone is talking about?

Never did I see The Mecalaros.

Always figured, "Ah, they'll be around. Plus, they're not The Clash."

Then again, Joe was the good Clash.

Now I'll never see him. A lesson I should have learned a long time ago.

Anyways, consolation. A great Mescalaros show:


All The Young Punks (New Boots and Contracts)

Hanging about down the market street
I spent a lot of time on my feet
When I saw some passing yabbos
We did chance to speak

I knew how to sing, y' know
And they knew how to pose
An' one of them had a Les Paul
Heart attack machine

All the young punks
Laugh your life
Cos there ain't much to cry for
All the young cunts
Live it now
Cos there ain't much to die for

Everybody wants to bum
A ride on the rock 'n' roller coaster
And we went out
Got our name in small print on the poster
Of course we got a manger
Though he ain't the mafia
A contract is a contract
When they get 'em out on yer

You gotta drag yourself to work
Drag yourself to sleep
You're dead from the neck up
By the middle of the week

Face front - you got the future
Shining like a piece of gold
But I swear as we get closer
It look more like a lump of coal
But it's better than some factory
Now that's no place to waste your youth
I worked there for a week once
I luckily got the boot

All the young punks
Laugh your life
Cos there ain't much to cry for
All the young cunts
Live it now
Cos there ain't much to die for

JOE: I sure will miss you!!

White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own
White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own

Black people gotta lot a problems
But they don't mind throwing a brick
White people go to school
Where they teach you how to be thick

An' everybody's doing
Just what they're told to
An' nobody wants
To go to jail!

All the power's in the hands
Of people rich enough to buy it
While we walk the street
Too chicken to even try it

Everybody's doing
Just what they're told to
Nobody wants
To go to jail!

Are you taking over
or are you taking orders?
Are you going backwards
Or are you going forwards?

I'm old, old, old, fat and fucking old.

Here's my best Joe Strummer imitation. I know this is your blog. Sorry for crying all over it. Delete this, if you wish.

Brand New Cadillac.mp3

Michele, thanks for sharing your Clash stories. I think they make for a damn fine eulogy.

I hope that wherever Strummer, Joey, and Dee Dee are, it's really nice.

This sucks.

There's no replacement for the Clash. They may be the most authentic band ever, in the punk sense. But damn, those guys were smart, and could walk the line betrween being crushing and affecting like no one else. Their songs are a "who's who" of the punk ethic, and to this day I may think of being "Back in garage with my bullshit detector" at least twice a week.

Favorite song- Today I'll stay "Stay Free," oddly extolling the virtues of staying out of jail. I once saw a sign in Middlebury, VT at a hotel that simply said "Kids Stay Free" and always thought of that song and what a gererous sentiment "Stay Free" is. Especially in today's context- not rah-rah patriotism, but literally the peace and possibilities of simply being free.

Favorite lyric: Also on "Brian's greatest brain hits" heavy rotation is

"I wasn't born,
So much as I fell out."

In short, all the pretenders, past a present, are blown to hell by the Clash. Their ethic, talent and class are well worth aspiring to. Some of the folks from today who think they're really sticking it to the man while they wear Patagonia jackets and buy Rage against the Machine albums should take a listen. Listen to a band that had a real conscience, and was not afraid to kick the proper asses .

Sorry to lose Joe, but he really will live on through the music- that's amost all I know about him!

----Born 1973, Pre-punk?

you say you stand by your man
but tell me something... i don't understand
you said you loved me, and that's a fact
and then you left me
said you felt trapped
well, some things you can't explain away
but the heartache's with me till this day

you didn't stand by me
no, not at all
you didn't stand by me
no way

all the times when we were close
i'll remember these things the most
i see all my dreams come tumblin' down
i can't be happy
without you around
so alone i keep the wolves at bay
and there's only one thing i can say...

you didn't stand by me
no, not at all
you didn't stand by me
no way

you must explain why this must be
did you lie... when you spoke to me?

did you stand by me?
no, not at all
now i've got a job, but it don't pay
i need new clothes, i need somewhere to stay
but without all of these things, i can do
but without your love, i won't make it through
but you don't understand my point of view
i suppose there's nothing i can do

you didn't stand by me,
no not all
you didn't stand by me
no way

you must explain why this must be
did you lie... when you spoke to me?

(did you stand by me? no not at all...
did you stand by me? no way...)

--- And I have to add at least this:

the crowd caught a whiff...
of that crazy casbah jiiiiiivvvve!!
(sharif don't like it... fundamentally can't take it!)

The king called up his jet fighters
He said "you'd better earn your pay
Drop your bombs between the minarets
Down the Casbah way"

...The jet fighters waaiiilll

This was my tune, heard it first when I was sixteen and giving up the hopes of a cool job, instead deciding to try to get a part-time job at Texaco:

The offered me the office, offered me the shop
They said I'd better take anything they'd got
Do you wanna make tea at the BBC?
Do you wanna be, do you really wanna be a cop?

Career opportunities are the ones that never knock
Every job they offer you is to keep you out the dock
Career opportunity, the ones that never knock

I hate the army an' I hate the R.A.F.
I don't wanna go fighting in the tropical heat
I hate the civil service rules
And I won't open letter bombs for you

Bus driver....ambulance man....ticket inspector

They're gonna have to introduce conscription
They're gonna have to take away my prescription
If they wanna get me making toys
If they wanna get me, well, I got no choice


Ain't never gonna knock

Heard at the wedding of a pair of friends as a special dance for the newly-wedded couple (though not their first dance):

I'm all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for that special offer
A guaranteed personality

I wasn't born so much as I fell out
Nobody seemed to notice me
We had a hedge back home in the suburbs
Over which I never could see

I heard the people who lived on the ceiling
Scream and fight most scarily
Hearing that noise was my first ever feeling
That's how it's been all around me

I'm all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for that special offer
A guaranteed personality

I'm all tuned in, I see all the programmes
I save coupons from packets of tea
I've got my giant hit discoteque album
I empty a bottle and I feel a bit free

The kids in the halls and the pipes in the walls
Make me noises for company
Long distance callers make long distance calls
And the silence makes me lonely

I'm all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for that special offer
A guaranteed personality

And it's not hear
It disappear
I'm all lost

"I'm standin' at a sale for the shoes of bankrupt men. I just had to buy a pair, to show life can live again"

That particular line from that Mescaleros song helped me through a rather painful break up....