Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Remembering Joe Strummer On His 7th Death Anniversary

Seven years have passed and I personally still have not gotten over the fact that Joe Strummer, the highly politically-charged frontman of The Clash and later on of The Mescaleros, is no longer of this world.

And why is that? Roughly three decades down the line and Strummer continues to inspire and touch generations of musicians, as well as artists and thinkers. I was introduced to The Clash through the local radio show Capital Radio (which is, incidentally, a song by The Clash) aired over at the now-defunct XB 102. The legendary Jingle Chordbook magazine likewise exposed me to The Clash alongside the rudimentaries of punk both locally and internationally.

Joe Strummer died last December 22, 2002 secondary to a congenital heart condition, yet another issue that is close to my, well, heart. It is very unusual for me to be affected by the death of someone whom I have never been with nor met physically, but Strummer did have that effect on me. I grew up listening to his music and realizing how he broke barriers of musical definition, which for me is the best thing about him.

Paul Simonon may be the most goodlooking Clash for me, but it is Strummer whom I love more. Love indeed, that I even have to write about him here when I have already written another post at Trash Radio Manila.

Yes, the Trash Radio Manila playlist is also here. The tracklist is as follows:

1. Armagideon Time (The Clash)
2. Joe Strummer on the political nature of The Clash as lifted from Rockers Galore album
3. London's Burning (The Clash)
4. Safe European Home (The Clash)
5. Police On My Back (The Clash)
6. Capitol Radio Two (The Clash)
7. Bhindi Bhagee (Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros)
8. Joe Strummer ("Without people, we're nothing), lifted from The Future Is Unwritten
9. The Sound Of The Sinners (The Clash)
10. Train In Vain (The Clash)
11. The Road To Rock 'n' Roll (Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros)
12. Redemption Song (Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros)

That is it, my little post on the "other" man that I profoundly love. Merry Christmas to one and all. Be safe and happy.

[A related post also appears at Trash Radio Manila.]

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Last Song Syndrome 13: Train In Vain (The Clash), For A Man Who Sang While He Was Sleeping

"All the times
When we were close

I'll remember these things the most

I see all my dreams come tumbling down

I won't be happy without you around

So all alone I keep the wolves at bay

There is only one thing that I can say...

Did you stand by me?
No, not at all.

- The Clash, "Train In Vain"

(Like it has always been said, the truth is stranger than fiction...it is just a matter of deciding which is truth and which is fiction.)

Many years ago, I packed my things and went to live with The Man Who Sings In His Sleep. Why I did this, without telling my family and friends, without even that unflinching conviction that my decision will turn out well, I was not really sure. I just thought it was an impulsive, ergo, adventurous, ergo, fun thing to do.

And why This Man? I was not sure either. He was not handsome, but he was sweet. He was not muscular, but he was charming. All I knew was, he sang to me, lured me to his house, fed me the most amazing seafood stew I have ever had, and since then I was hooked.

We lived in a small but nice house situated near the railroad track. It is not as bad as it sounds. The railroad was about a kilometer away, such that every train that passed on the tracks sounded more like a musical drone in our house.

That drone would eventually serve as my alarm clock. Everyday, at six and a half in the morning, I would wait for the train to pass. That was the time for me to leave for work.

The Man Who Sings In His Sleep would still be dozing by then. He had curiously acquired this habit of singing along the sound of the passing train WHILE ASLEEP. So it was again quite bizarre that I would listen to both the train and the humming of The Man just before I leave.

This Man sang just about anything in his sleep. Maybe it depended on his mood just before he hit the sack. I noticed though that he was partial to the songs of these English bands. The Jam, The Who, Colourfield, Ocean Colour Scene. And yes, The Clash.

How he loved The Clash.

So it went on this way for months. By far I had not regretted my choice to live with him. It was not always rosy, but living with The Man gave me an indescribable sense of comfort, that nothing could go wrong. Until one morning.

As I was wearing my shoes, I heard the train pass. Soon enough, I heard him sing. The Clash. Again.

"Did you stand by me? No, not at all. Did you stand by me? No way!"

I gasped as I sat by his side. Was he trying to read my heart and mind in his sleep? Right that moment, I was about to say: Please do not sing that song to me. I made a choice and lived with you. I may not have been sure then, but things are different now. I am here. I will always be here.

But before I could open my mouth, he stopped singing. His eyes still closed, The Man gave the funniest smirk that I have ever seen on his face. I was taken aback, then found myself laughing and kissing his face.

You silly silly one, I whispered over and over. I love you. I am now late for work, but what do I care now? He opened his eyes, saw me laughing, and gave me a puzzled look. What is going on?

I continued to laugh, and soon enough he was laughing with me, and we were laughing and hugging one another, long after the train had sounded off its passing.