Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Redemption Song

Today in Music History:

In 1969, Elvis Presley kicked off a four week run at the Las Vegas International Hotel, (his first live show since 1961). He reportedly netted $1.5m for the shows. On the menu an Elvis special, polk salad with corn muffins & Honey.

Joe Strummer BiographyDoes anybody read books anymore? I don't read as much as I used to mainly because of time constraints and my old fart eyesight. I've worn glasses all my life and they're thick as coke bottles and now I find the print to be too small. I do manage to read though and right now I'm halfway into, Redemption Song The Ballad of Joe Strummer, The Definitive Biography. It is a fascinating look into one of the greatest poets of our generation if you will. From the time I discovered the Clash in 1979 to the present day, Joe has been a defining force in my life. When Joe passed away it was a devastating day for me as well as countless others.

Most of us know the basic history of The Clash, one of the most important groups of our times. Yet this book has opened up a whole new facet to the man and the myth, Joe Strummer. The author, Chris Salewicz, starts the book on how he heard the news about Joe's passing and how hard it hit him, which immediately brought back memories of my feelings of that day. Chris Salewicz knew Joe as a close friend since 1977. With the full approval of his relatives, companions and fellow musicians, he has written the definitive account of the most fascinating of all British rock 'n' roll idols, a man who really did change the way the world thought.

Joe was a man of mystery, willfully reinventing himself to take part in the 1977's radical punk movement. The reality - which included a secret family past, enormous worldwide success, bleak years in the wilderness and a triumphant return to stardom - contained all the elements of Shakespearian tragedy. But through enormous personal struggle and resolve, Joe Strummer turned his life into an uplifting, epic story.

Right now in the book I'm towards the end of 1977 with The Clash gaining momentum on the heels of their debut album, which wasn't released in the US until 1979. His pre Clash days have been well documented here and I was mesmerized reading the parts about his time with the 101'ers, his band prior to joining the Clash. The whole punk movement is well chronicled with a well known cast of characters. I have often said that as the world was getting it's first look at punk via the Sex Pistols and parents being scared shitless by them, it was really the Clash that should have had the parents running scared.

Joe Strummer was a man I much admired and this biography is one that should be read by anyone who has had a passing listen of the Clash. If you don't mind opening a pdf file, one can go here to read the first chapter of the book, I think you may find yourself wanting more. So I would like to showcase some of Joe's lesser known stuff. I guess I mean non Clash stuff that some may be unfamiliar with. Joe we hardly knew ye.

Letsgetabitrockin' by the 101'ers
Lonely Mother's Son by the 101'ers (later became Jail Guitar Doors for the Clash)
Buy It

Minstrel Boy by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros
Buy It

Redemption Song by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros
Coma Girl by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros(one of his best songs ever)
Buy It

Funny Toon