Monday, August 13, 2007

they say the stars can’t see their rays, nor can they count their numbered days

sunday i finally got around to watching "let's rock again" a documentary about joe strummer and his last band, the mescaleros. shot in 2001 and 2002, it follows joe and the band as they tour japan and the united states. strummer passed away not long after the japanese tour and the recording of a final mescaleros record, streetcore.

preview clip here...

we see joe and the band on the road promoting their second record, global a go-go. in japan he is greeted backstage and on the street by people positively verklempt at meeting a true music legend. i know i'd have had a hard time not being a gushing idiot had i had the chance to met him.

we also see something remarkable -- a completely unaffected and blase joe, doing a cold call to a south jersey radio station to promote the album and the show in atlantic city. we see joe on the a.c boardwalk trying to drum up business for the show. we see joe sitting on the street and just hanging out with some kids who are presumably no older than his own kids...just chatting with them about music as if in fact they are his kids. joe *fucking* strummer doing what neophyte artists do to get noticed. that should serve as an object lesson to any artist who thinks he's too big to interact with the hoi polloi.

i'm not too much affected by celebrity death and misadventure. paris hilton in jail means nothing to me. however, i was upset when kurt cobain killed himself...though i sometimes wonder if he -- or rather his legacy -- like james dean and marilyn monroe, was better served by dying young.

with joe, though...his sudden death, at a point in his life where he was still making good music, still passionate about his work...any time i hear his voice i get a little sad. in fact, i stumbled on this clip for his version of bob marley's "redemption song" recently...

it affects me every time i watch it...i'll cop to getting a bit misty-eyed (and it's playing now as i finish this post, and well, let's say the room's a bit dusty). check out the comments, especially the oldest ones. you can see what strummer and his music meant to people. and this comment by zeke7777 speaks to the scenes i mentioned in "let's rock again" where joe is tirelessly promoting his show and the record -- "joe strummer was never bigger than his smallest fan."

joe was a true original, a true punk in the sense of living his values, even if the values cost him material goods. the clash really were for a while "the only band that really matters", because their music was so infused with politics and passion. joe never wavered from that combination. check out the voice-over that starts the clip. that was joe...idealism and passion, not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve.

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