Posts Tagged ‘Joe Strummer’

I went to see the Julien Temple doco on Joe Strummer (Clash front man) tonight. PhenoThe future is unwrittenmenal! Whether you do or don’t like the Clash, don’t miss: Strummer: the future is unwritten. It’s an inspiring documentary that illustrates the effect that a singular passion and focus can have. We are presented with an intimate view into the London of the late 70’s and 80s as Strummer reminds us of the importance of doing something to enhance the world around us. In his own words:

“People can change anything they want to and that means everything in the world. People are running about following their little tracks. I am one of them, but we’ve gotta stop just following our own little mouse trail. People can do anything, this is something that I’m beginning to learn. People are out there doing bad things to each other just because they’re being dehumanised. It’s time to take the humanity back into the center of the ring and follow that for a time. Greed isn’t going anywhere; they should put that on a big billboard across Times Square. Without people you’re nothing. That’s my spiel.”

I could not have scripted a more perfect follow-up experience to that of the previous weekend’s yoga retreat. What now will I do with all this information?

There is a certain veracity to youth and Strummer like most of us, recognised the absolute energy and quest for authenticity that accompanies these years, during which time Strummer, was unwavering both in his conviction that everyone was equal and his ability to communicate this around the planet.

Nearing my 40’s, it is easy to slip into complacency, exchanging the belief that I should continue to question the way the world is, for a focus on job security and a mortgage; handing the former on to a new generation whose voice is now somehow more authentic than my own. How convenient it is to feel that one has ‘missed the boat’ and enjoy early parole from a life-sentence of rallying to the cause; retiring to dreams of a house in the burbs and a weekender away from it all.

Whilst Strummer’s revolution was against authority, inequity and bullying of all kinds, my partner pointed out that the new revolution is against the complacency of the self. More than any other generation we risk repeating the mistakes of previous generations; settling for a definition of self that is materially-based (cars, houses, jobs, clothes), rather than a ruthless interrogation of, and ability to hold ourselves accountable for the world around us.

Although Strummer never really lost his sense of purpose, in the years following the demise of the Clash he was unable to give this a voice, eventually finding this with the Mescaleros and through the many campfires he created. According to Julien Temple Strummer had become obsessed with building campfires, most famously at Glastonbury, “almost as a creative statement – there was this idea that it was a great leveler, that it reached back to prehistoric man, that people never really meet each other that profoundly in any other context”.

In a New Musical Express magazine interview in December 1976, Strummer explained where The Clash stood: “anti-fascist, we’re anti-violence, anti-racist and we’re pro-creative”. Later on his ideas hardened as explained in a NME interview in 1981: “we’re getting a lot more political in our old age. I don’t believe in Soviet Russia … I believe in socialism because it seems more humanitarian, rather than every man for himself and all those arsehole businessmen with the loot.”

How can we, each of us, step out of our complacency and level the playing field leading people meet with each other? I welcome your thoughts, comments and experiences.


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