Remembering Joe StrummerNews | Angela | August 19, 2011 at 12:01 am
Today I want to honour the memory of Joe Strummer who would be celebrating his 59th birthday this Sunday the 21st. It’s difficult to find the words to properly express the impact Joe had on my life because it was deep and personal and I don’t expect to come close to doing it justice here.
I never met Joe. I saw him 3 times and the last time got within 10 or 20 feet from him but didn’t have the nerve to go any closer. He was hanging out by the stage after playing with The Pogues in Toronto and there was a crowd around him and I didn’t want to be the stupid gushing girl blurting out I love you so I just watched from a distance. Everything I was thinking about saying sounded like a gush of some sort so I just stood there and did and said nothing. I wish I could go back and be the stupid gushing girl that blurts out I love you.
I always felt like the round peg in a very square-hole world. I was 13 when I first heard London Calling and I was immediately drawn in. I didn’t know what Joe was singing about but I still felt like he was speaking to me and for me somehow. I continued listening and learned about struggles in the world beyond where I lived, independent thought, questioning authority, challenging the norms of society, fighting oppression and all its ugly isms and just being a better person. I learned to stop caring what people thought about me and staying true to myself. All these things were always there but The Clash put it together for me through their lyrics, sound and Joe’s passion. Not to take anything away from Mick, Paul or Topper but The Clash were more Joe to me.
“I will never give up. Sometimes I feel like it, but never have I ever thought of giving up. Even in the dark days. There was something going on, like a little spark that kept me sane.” Joe Strummer
I’m sort of an accidental entrepreneur finding my way here by chance rather than plan or greed. I always worked hard but I was the last person anyone would have figured to achieve any success. I’m not saying I’m Gates or that my personal life is all in order (Lord knows) but I have accomplished way more and have come a lot further than anyone would have guessed. I remember a teacher telling me at 15 the only school I’d ever make it in was subway school. I wasn’t completely sure what he meant but I knew not to put too much value in it thanks to Joe.
“I will always believe in punk rock, because it’s about creating something for yourself. Part of it was: ‘Stop being a sap! Lift your head up and see what is really going on in the political, social and religious situations, and try and see through all the smoke screens.” Joe Strummer
Joe continues to inspire me to see through the crap, go hard at something or not at all – always give 100%, take responsibility for your mistakes, never become complacent, to never give up, to have high standards for yourself and don’t let others compromise them. But above all else never sell-out or sell yourself short and fight for what you believe. I’m opinionated and passionate and will be those things even when it’s not the popular choice – especially for a girl. The Mohawk, chains and ripped fishnets are gone but the punk spirit lives in me just as much today as it did 30 years ago and always will.
“The way you get a better world is, you don’t put up with substandard anything” Joe Strummer
Happy birthday Joe – you are missed every day. Thanks for leaving so much behind.