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Takin’ the Freight Elevator to the Incinerator: Joe Strummer and 9/11

"The world just can’t be that bad. It just can’t be."

by
Kathy Shaidle

Bio

September 11, 2013 - 6:15 am
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Photo: Bob Gruen (1981)

Photo: Bob Gruen (1981)

I think you have to grow up and realise that we’re facing religious fanatics who would kill everyone in the world who doesn’t do what they say. The more time you give them the more bombs they’ll get. Bin Laden is going to try and kill more people.

When we’re all supposed to be working, a tiny cabal of my fellow Gen-Xers amuse (and depress) ourselves with daily emails about the awful music kids these days are listening to, and which sacred movies are being pointlessly remade, and which famous person we “grew up with” just had the nerve to die.

Last week, one of the “gang,” Rick McGinnis, sent me a link to the quote above.

“PROOF!” Rick added. “I thought I just imagined this, but I didn’t, it seems. I feel vindicated.”

He’d tracked down Clash frontman Joe Strummer’s immediate reaction to the 9/11 attacks.

When Strummer died in 2002, not a few conservative writers cited Strummer’s comments in their obits.

I’m not sure he would have approved.

The son of a British diplomat, Strummer may not have been an authentic Charing Cross Road working class lad (any more than Bob Dylan was a real live Dust Bowl goy), but he was a lifelong Man of the Left, often to the point of colossal stupidity:

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All Comments   (26)
All Comments   (26)
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Thanks for resurrecting memories of what life was like when I first saw Rude Boy. I can understand Joe returning to the leftist fold after his dalliances with reality. As Joe Escalante of the Vandals knows, the world is a tough place for DIY right wing punkers.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rude Boy used to run semi-regularly at the Broadway rep cinema in Hamilton down the street from my house. In those days, my friends and I were more Crass than Clash, and we'd go "to make fun of it" but we all secretly thought, Holy crap, those guys are kinda hot! It was like shameful punk porn :-)
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
I liked Springsteen for a while, back when girls HATED him…About ’77-’80…when he (pretended?) to be an icky blue-collar Gearhead, a proud and capable Man of the Old School, who could build things of fire and steel and danger in a world turned upside-down, where the wimps, pretty boys and “college fags” were suddenly getting all the girls…

Funny how it’s the Lefty “college fags” who are his biggest fans these days.

And The Girls think he’s this dreamy Rock Daddy who’s always been up on Mt Rushmore…

When actually, Bob Segar albums outsold him by the millions back in the day.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
BTW, you are right about Bob Seger who had far more hits. I suspect Springsteen had more hits for other performers than he did himself.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
I liked The Wild, The Innocent and the East Street Shuffle (maybe his best), Greetings From Asbury Park, Born To Run, Darkness On The Edge Of Town and even sorta a little The River -- which came out in the Carter era and includes in the title track the lyrics "I got a job working construction for the Johnstown Company, but lately there ain't been much work, on account of the economy".

I initially liked Born in the USA but I came to hate it due the airplay and, maybe, the fact he dissed Reagan. Since then I think pretty much everything he did sucked, although I kind of liked Philadelphia, but that was only one song.

I threw out my Springsteen cds after the last election.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
I gave up on Bruce when I finally heard/read the lyrics to “The River” after waiting so long (in my own ‘69 chevy with a 396!) for it to come out in highschool…

After all that bitching about the passion, the Quest for Love, Redemption, and Salvation in 'Born to Run" and "Darkness" I kept waiting for the stanza in “The River” where he realizes the gift of a NEW life brings the meaning and purpose to him…

Where all of what he struggled to achieve with his own bare-fisted “creations” of pistons and chrome come full circle, The Passion to do and BE something larger than the “dusty road” of some worn-out Carnival Town revealed at last…

“So rest yer little head now, and go to sleep
I’m gonna be for you the Daddy that my momma couldn’t keep
And in the mornin’, son, take my hand and I’ll show you the way..
This worlds got nothin’ fer you, but daddys gonna stay”

But it never happened…it was all Me, me, me….Aw crap my b*tch is knocked up…now I gotta WORK for a living (and in Jersey where I was from, a “union card” meant a Government Job/Ticket to easy street!)…woe is me, MY OWN CHILD is such a personal tragedy I’m gonna write a dirge about it!?
WTF?


That’s when I learned all those “misters” and “sirs” and “daddy’s” weren’t a humble old-fashioned boy seeking an Iron sort of manhood in a plastic age..


It was a gimmick, a phase, a formula, and nothing more.

For a while he sounded like the man I wanted to be (and eventually became) Gearhead, Veteran, Engineer, Husband, Father, Proud Old-School American...

But he became (probably always was) a self-centered Lefty D#*chebag.

Soulda listened to MY Daddy...

“son, when I was a young man, Entertainers were like Vaudville…We didn’t look to the Ventriloquist or the Plate Twirler or the Guy with the Monkey on a Bicycle for Wisdom, Advice, or Politics…"
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Epic comment!!!
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dittos
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Springsteen wrote "The Rising" without mentioning the animals who did this. It as an album of maudlin victimhood, 9/11 as a sales pitch. I lost a dear friend on 9/11. Not only did those bastards murder him and all the others, but we know exaclty who they are. Whether you agree or disagree with the wars since(and I'm now firmly in the later camp)writinga collection fo songs about 9/11 without mentioning Islam is insulting to the people who were murdered.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
I will further prove my contrarian cred:

I have always though Bob Seger was better than Springsteen. Then again, I prefer the Monkees to the Beatles, so.

Wonder how those girls feel about Bruce cheating on his wife. (Ditto Joe strummer)
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
I enjoy hearing "last train to clarksville" just as much as ANY beatle song, because its a great tune to listen to...any other criteria applied to a "musician" is done at your own peril.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was never a huge Seger fan, but I'll give him this: he has never reinvented himself.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm reminded of something Laura Ingalls Wilder's mother wrote in her autograph book, after Laura had gotten herself into a scrape: "If wisdom's ways you wisely seek, five things observe with care: Of whom you speak, to whom you speak, and how, and when and where."

And another is, why don't they just shup up and sing!
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
I didn't know that about Rob Zombie -- what a let down!
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ever notice how Leftists always retreat from their own gut instincts whenever they forget for a brief moment they are Leftists and act like people.
See: Clarification, Kennedy on Sharpton, Al
IBID: Jackson, Jessie
Even THEY don’t believe the in the crap they “believe”.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The world just can’t be that bad. It just can’t be.”

Liberal thought in a nutshell.

"Yes, it can."

Conservative thought in a nutshell.

So far, we've been correct.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Exactly!
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Many on the left can only assign absolute evil to their political opponents - the Right, the Republicans. Blame America first. On 9/11 it was shown to them that some people outside the US can be evil incarnate, wish their destruction just for being Infidels. They went into denial. Until a few months later where again they could focus their hate on Bush. The World isn't that bad. Just some ideologies. Those on the left should know, most of those ideologies are theirs and their heroes have blood on their hands. They don't apologize about it and never acknowledge it.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Terrorism was different before 9/11. It was more about publicity for the terrorist's cause. "Tommy Gun" was what the Clash had to say about it. I remember the Red Brigade T-shirt. He didn't wear it as a sign of support for those commie intellectual terrorist.... But he had the brains to realise it was truly in bad taste, sarcasm aside. Strummer was a bit more ... complicated than today's artists. Sarcasm has a way to be misunderstood... Look at what happened to Rammstein in Germany for example.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
And yes the lyrics to Tommy Gun are better than I'd remembered them...

http://www.lyricsfreak.com/c/clash/tommy+gun_20031758.html

Tommy gun, you can be a hero in an age of none
Tommy gun, I'm cutting out your picture from page one
I'm gonna get a jacket just like yours and give my false support to your cause
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
True enough. I understand the Red Brigade shirt was mostly meant as a poke in the eye to the National Front or something, except I'm not sure the average NF bloke would "get" it.

I also think that elsewhere in Rude Boy, he tells Ray he dreams of becoming rich. Which is great and frankly, Mick Jones was far less secretive about his ambitions that Joe was.

After all, Jones really was a council house latchkey kid/semi-orphan; of course he went out and bought a Chelsea flat with his CBS $ -- while Joe kept squatting as a kind of gesture of solidarity with the fans or somesuch.

Meanwhile Strummer played some now forgotten Rock Against the Rich concert after he'd made his money. "Complicated" is certainly one good word for it. :-)
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hi Kathy, generally love your stuff - same vintage

Well Joe never really got filthy rich... But the what really left a bad taste in my mouth was some live concert in Boston(?) by the current crop of zilionnaire credit card marxist music personalities after Strummer died. Of all people, Bruce Springsteen sang "London Calling", "for Joe" as an hommage to him after his recent death. So whatever you have against Joe, let it be known that he paid for it right there and then!
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
YEs, my feelings on Springsteen are well known in these parts.

Filthy rich? No? And he had lots of good points. But as another commenter said, notice how sometimes these guys "slip" and sound normal -- then take it back after their friends disapprove?
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Absolutely. It must be hard being on the left and having half a brain. You can't have nuanced opinions because the of the orthodoxy. Everything is political, all the time, it's hard left and it goes to 11. It brooks no dissent.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
After a certain point, even Woody Guthrie wasn't Woodie Guthrie anymore.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Joe Strummer would never have brought a horse farm in New Jersey.

Or bitched about kids being to loud skateboarding in his tony Ct. suburb as per Rob Zombie.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
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