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by Alan Minsky
Thursday, Dec. 26, 2002 at 12:29 PM
I was the guest host of KPFK's the Morning Show on X-Mas day; and I did a short tribute to Joe Strummer in the show's first segment (roughly from 7:05 to 7:15am). Below is a rough draft for what I said on the air.
(The first two minutes of "Magnificent Seven" opened the segment)
The Clash, fronted by Joe Strummer, with the song "Magnificent Seven" from their 1980 album "Sandinista."
Joe Strummer died earlier this week. Strummer and the Clash were more than just brilliant punk rockers, they were tremendous musicians and trenchant social critics. In their breif history, from 1977 to 1983, the Clash evolved from a hard-hitting punk rock band with some Reggae influence into an act that incorporated as wide a range of world music as any Rock band ever: Reggae, dub, Latin Jazz and Latin folk music, Asian folk music, be bop, experimental soundscapes, rhythm and blues, rock n’ roll, and, perhaps, most notably, rap music at a time when the form was still in its infancy. And whereas all of Punk Rock expounds anti-authoritarian ethics, few bands expand that ethic into a fully realized political critique; not so, Strummer and the Clash. The bands lyrics, as a body of work, represented nothing less than searing condemnation of contemporary capitalism, American imperialism, and the cultural degradations wrought by this ruling order. Mix in a brilliant sense of irony, raging defiance, and punk rock cool – and you have Joe Strummer. Joe, you were a revolutionary, a companero, and we’ll miss you.
Just want to add to that I lived in Italy in the late 70s, where I got politicized (so to speak), but then my family returned to the American Midwest for my High School years; and I don't think I could possibly convey how important the Clash were to me when I got back to St Louis -- it was like they were throwing me a lifeline, there just wasn't a lot of anti-capitalist culture in the Midwest in those days. What was almost just as important as what the Clash meant to me personally, was seeing how my friends in St Louis responded to them. Reading Marx in Social studies class was something they approached like any other high school assignment, something to get through; but when they heard the Clash, they'd be like, hey maybe there is something to this stuff afterall. (Maybe society could be organized differently than how it is.)
Indeed, Joe we'll miss you; up next is the song "Washington Bullets" off of the 1980 album Sandinista. The song should make a fine segue to what follows: a roundtable discussion recorded this past October on the Free Trade Areas of the Americas. After the discussion, we’ll round out the hour with a little more from the Clash. You are listening to the Morning Show on KPFK 90.7: Here's (Joe Strummer and the Clash with) Washington Bullets.
(Later in the show we (i.e. me and engineer Mark Maxwell) played "I'm So Bored With the U.S.A." and part of the song "Straight to Hell".)
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