Happy Birthday Joe!
Monday, August 21, 2006

Joe Strummer
August 21, 1952 – December 22, 2002

Taking a moment to remember Joe Strummer on what would have been his 54th birthday. Joe was one of the founding members of the Clash, a band that had the most profound affect on me of any other, which says a lot, since I was fond of several during my college years.

The Clash Topper Headon, Mick Jones, Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon

I had the opportunity to meet the man (along with Paul Simonon, Mick Jones and Terry Chambers) backstage at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio, the year of 1982. I was 20, attending the University of Texas for my Bachelors in Graphic Design. A bunch of us like-minded gals drove down from Austin in my 1971 VW Beetle. The show was great, the venue smallish, the theater majestic — an oddly appropriate setting for their music. We danced in our seats, and for the second half, stood and jammed in the aisles. My best-buddy (who was partially-sighted, and was the most fearless of all of us), snuck her way up to the barricade, and saw the show from there, since none of the bouncers had the heart to boot a blind-ish kid!

There’s no tool more powerful
in the hands of a pissed-off man
than an electric guitar.

We made our way after to the backstage door, and they let us in. I only shook Joe’s hand, as I was shaking in my Converse tennies, couldn’t summon up the courage to speak intelligently. Poor guy. I think I leaned in, peered into his eyes, and muttered “They’re brown. Your eyes are brown.” He looked at me kinda non-plussed and said “Yeah”, which let me off the hook so I could scurry away. My first and mostly last episode of fangirly-ness.

We were much more comfy with Mick and Paul, who were less intimidating. We just chattered away with them, cracked jokes. They were very kind. We asked if Joe Ely was still around, since he’d done an encore with them, they said SURE! “Hey, where's Joe, anyone seen Joe Ely?” So, much to our embarrassment there was this huge hubbub while they rooted Ely out of the warren of the backstage area, and he came over to visit. He recognized us, since we were regulars at his Austin gigs. Made us feel right to home. He’s still rockin’ to this day, too. Myself? Not so much.

Joe with Joe Ely, circa 1981

Joe died in 2002 at the age of 50, of an undiagnosed congenital heart defect. This news affected me greatly, as I survive with a diagnosed congenital heart defect; the warning shot was a bit too close to home, me being of an age with the man, albeit 10 years younger. If he’d known about his condition, he’d probably stopped smoking (sooner) and still be around today. Just projecting uncertainty of my own mortality, but I like to think that it could have played out that way.

Here’s to you, Mr. Strummer. You rocked my world, gave me a constructive outlet for my young-adult anger and frustration. Made me care at a time in my life when I had the energy for it. You will always stand as a tribute to my belief that music had the power to change the world for the better.

Hugs and much respect,
-Lt. Petey/Hera/Diane

My favorite songs from

The Sound of the Sinners

As the floods of God
Washed away Sin City
They say it was written
In the page of the Lord
But I was looking
For that great jazz note
That destroyed
The walls of Jericho

The winds of fear
Whip away the sickness
The messages on the tablet
Was Valium®
As the planets form
That golden cross, Lord
I’ll see you on
The holy cross roads

After all this time
To believe in Jesus
After all those drugs
I thought I was Him
After all my lying
And a-crying
And suffering
I ain’t good enough
I ain’t clean enough
To be Him

The tribal wars
Burning up the homeland
The fuel of evil
Is raining from the sky
The sea of lava
Flowing down the mountain
This time will sweep
Us sinners by

Holy rollers roll
Give generously now
Pass the hubcap, please
Thank you, Lord
Thank you.

• • • • • • • • •

The Street Parade

Well I was waiting for your phone call
The one that never comes
Like a man about to burst
I was dying of thirst

Though I will never fade
Or get lost in this daze
Though I will disappear
Into the street parade

It’s not too hard to cry
In these crying times
I’ll take my broken heart
Take. it. home. in. parts.

But I will never fade
Or get lost in the haze
Though I will disappear
And join the street parade

I was in this place
By the first church of the city
I saw tears on the face
The face of a visionary

Though I will disappear
To join the street parade
Disappear and fade
Into the street parade

• • • • • • • • •

Kingston Advice

In these days you can get no rice
No razor blades but you can get knife
In these days, see the people run
They have no food but the boy have gun

In these days they don’t throw the stone
Nor use the voice, they use the gun alone
In these days to be an oddity
Hunted down like a scarcity

In these days don’t beg for life
Wanna take Kingston advice?
Oh please, don't beg for your life

In these days the beat is militant
Must be a clash, there’s no alternative
In these days nations are militant
We have slavery under government
In these days in the firmament
I look for signs that are permanent

In these days with no love to give
The world will turn with no one left to live

In these days I don’t know what to do
The more I see the more I’m destitute
In these days I don’t know what to sing
The more I know the less my tune can swing

• • • • • • • • •


“It ain’t my fault it’s 6 o’clock in the morning”
He said as he came up out of the night

When he found I had no coins to bum,
He began to testify:
“Born in a depression
Born out of good luck
Born into misery
In the back of a truck..

I’m telling you this mister
Don’t be put off by looks
I been in the ring, and I took those right hooks

Oh the loneliness
Used to knock me out — harder than the rest
And I’ve worked for breakfast
’n I ain't had no lunch
I been on delivery and received every punch

Suddenly I noticed that it weren’t quite the same
Felt different one morning, maybe it was the rain?

But everywhere I looked all over the city
People runnin’ in an out of the bars
Someone stopped for a pick-up, driving one of those cars!

Y’see I always wanted one of those cars
Long black ’n shiny an’ pull up to the bars
Honk your horn, put down your windows, push yer button an’ hear it coming in
You can say ‘I can see the light...’
Roll! Forward! Drive! Green lights! Green lights!
Intersection city coming running comeback, home I run back, not that strong now

Yes who’s there now, can I help you?
Calling Intel station light, and I…

‘Did you put your money in?‘
‘Did you put your money in?‘
Yes I put it in
Yes I put it in
And I can see the light!

It say go, I say go, she say go, so we say go
Cos I can see the light
All night
This night
Right now

Comin’ on
Forward motion
’cross the ocean
An’ up the hills!
Yeah boys! Let’s strike for the hills!

While that petrol tank is full
Gimme a push, gimme a pull
Gimme a llama, gimme a mule
Gimme a donkey or gimme a horse

E yi yi yi yi!

Down the avenue!
Down the avenue!
Oh, so fine
In style."

• • • • • • • • •


If he'd lived, I believe he would have been a Firefly fan.


Monday, August 21, 2006 7:58 AM


Happy Birthday Joe! RIP.

Thanks Hera for the grand tribute to a grand fella.


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