Thursday, December 18, 2008

London Calling

Every once in a while I am zapped out of my everyday humdrum doldrums and am reminded why I started this blog in the first place. Then I realize further that I should be posting here on a daily basis. I have been trying to get at least every other day, but sometimes I even miss that. After today who knows, I may be chucking out a lot more posts (after the holidays of course). Let me tell you a story of this morning.

This morning arrived early at 3:30 AM. Our island rarely gets snow or below freezing, but this morning we had both. So an early start was in order. After an excruciating comedy of errors in the wee morning hours homercat finally got to work. Our new guy was working the graveyard. He's been with us about six months now and he's a strapping young lad of 20. As usual he had his Ipod fired up as he was cleaning up our dashing little pub. He always has his Ipod glued into his ears. Recently he told me that since he's started working at the pub, he's heard every song on his Ipod and was looking for recommendations for music. Now he's no musical slouch and we've often had conversations about music. He even plays a little guitar. My last recommendation for him was Slade and he tried them out but didn't seem to fired up about them. This morning our conversation turned to music on my top 100 albums of all time. So he says to me, what album would you consider to be #1 on your list. Now that is a tall order. Usually I would pick out 10 albums and say that these 10 are the top 10 and I couldn't possibly put them in any order. I was pigeonholed and had to pick a number 1. So without any more hesitation I proceed to tell him that my pick for #1 would have to be London Calling by The Clash. A no brainer for me. In fact if I was told I could only listen to just 5 albums for the rest of my life, it would still be #1 on my list.

You know what he says next? "The Clash, who's that?" My jaw dropped to the floor. Here is a knowledgeable young man and he has never heard of the Clash. I was stunned beyond belief. Turns out that he has heard Should I Stay or should I Go but didn't know who sang it. So I told him London Calling was my pick for best album of all time and he'd never heard of it. I can't imagine not having that album in my life let alone not ever hearing it. For my money nothing else even comes close to the assault on auditory senses that London Calling provides. Not only is London Calling one of the best-written albums ever, it's one of the best-sounding albums as well. The first time I placed this album on the turntable, my mind was blown. From the menacing opening chords of the title track, I was mesmerized. Then comes the smokin' cover of Brand New Cadillac and I was done like dinner. By the time Death or Glory was playing, I knew this was the ultimate Clash song on the ultimate album. Most of the songs are so brilliant that it seems impossible that mere humans created them. The amazing conglomeration of political and social ideas is merely one of the marks of the genius of this album. Fascists, revolutions, gangsters, junkies, race riots, nuclear destruction, rude boys, suburban alienation, consumerism, and even Montgomery Clift mixed upon hard rock, punk, snarling vocals, rockabilly, jazz, ska, and reggae. Amazing. London Calling literally changed my life. Trust me on this one. If it hadn't I wouldn't have cried like a baby almost exactly six years ago on December 22, 2002 when Joe Strummer, a man I admired greatly, died suddenly at his home of an undiagnosed congenital heart defect. Just ask Mrs. homercat. I was a mess that day.

I tend to stick to lesser known artists, oldies, out of print or the occasional new stuff. It never even occurred to me that I should write a post about The Clash. I mean doesn't everyone own this album? Apparently not. Maybe I should be writing more about what I call the biggies (the big artists). So that is how I was reminded of what prompted me to start this little old place 5 years ago. To expose a younger generation to the classics. As long as there are 20 year olds walking around this planet who have never heard of the Clash, then I suppose Good Rockin' Tonight will stay in business. Those of us who know music are obligated to expose and educate the younger generation so something like this never happens again. Even though most of you own this album (or should), it is my duty to cue up a couple tracks for the uninitiated. Rock in Peace Joe, 6 Years on: Never Forgotten, Always an Inspiration, Always Missed.

London Calling
Death or Glory

The Clash - London CallingBuy It

Funny Toon