Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer

Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer

The Clash was--and still is--one of the most important groups of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Indebted to rockabilly, reggae, Memphis soul, cowboy justice, and '60s protest, the overtly political band railed against war, racism, and a dead-end economy, and in the process imparted a conscience to punk. Their eponymous first record and" London Calling" still rank in Rolli...

DownloadRead Online
Title:Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer
Author:Chris Salewicz
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer Reviews

  • Tom Nixon

    I was on the M3 Motorway in England when I learned the Joe Strummer had died, courtesy of The Daily Mail. It was 2002 and we were in England for the winter for a change- for Christmas and so that Dad could teach a course in London and Paris over the winter break. Newspapers were still buzzing about the benefit concert for striking firefighters that Strummer had played some weeks before. He had been joined onstage by fellow Clash member Mick Jones, marking the first time they had played together

    I was on the M3 Motorway in England when I learned the Joe Strummer had died, courtesy of The Daily Mail. It was 2002 and we were in England for the winter for a change- for Christmas and so that Dad could teach a course in London and Paris over the winter break. Newspapers were still buzzing about the benefit concert for striking firefighters that Strummer had played some weeks before. He had been joined onstage by fellow Clash member Mick Jones, marking the first time they had played together since 1983. 2002 was when I was just discovering The Clash, exploring their singles and learning about their music. They were more complex than the Ramones, politically angry, not just plain angry like the Sex Pistols and they wanted to explore different types of music. Boiling anger, driving chords and deeply political, they made quite the impression on me. Stummer's death made me melancholy because there went another band I'd never get to see live on stage...

    What I didn't realize then and what I know now was the depth of Strummer's musical explorations and sheer genius. Thanks to longtime Strummer confidante and British music journalist Chris Salewicz's definitive portrait of the lead singer of the Clash, I now know a lot more than I did before. Salewicz offers what amounts to an almost 'double-biography'- telling the story of John Graham Mellor (Strummer's real name) as well as the chronicling both the rise and fall of The Clash and then the formation of Strummer's new band, the Mescaleros which marked a triumphant return to form that was cut short by his death in 2002.

    Strummer was born in Ankara, son of a British foreign office diplomat and went through the usual succession of public schools in the 60s and 70s before drifting into punk in the late 70s, first in the band the 101ers then eventually joining up with Mick Jones and forming The Clash. Strummer carried a lot of baggage with him, namely the tragic death of his older brother. You could make an argument that Strummer's wider view of the world could have helped drive his interest in such a wide variety of music. Rockabilly, Latin, Reggae- all of which and more can be heard throughout the Clash's discography.

    My experience with biographies has been mixed at best. Some can be compulsive readable, others can be so interesting and so packed with details as to be exhausting. Salewicz has managed to produce a voluminous, heavily detailed portrait of a musical icon that manages to be compulsively readable as well as full of details that reveal new depths to The Clash as well as Strummer himself. I listened to more of their music because of this book and, more to the point, I appreciated more of their music and their lyrics because of this book. I discovered the joys of Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros (recognizable for providing the music to Brangelina's steamy tango in 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith')- 'Johnny Appleseed' is one of those tracks that you can tap your toes to automatically and is just drenched with sheer joy. 'Bhindi Bagee' actually happened and the line 'vaccuum cleaner sucks up budgie' from the Clash track 'Magnificent Seven' also ripped from the headlines.

    Strummer jumped feet first into both America and Spain- we get to hear about how he went on a quest to find the grave of murdered Spanish poet Frederico Garcia Lorca and actually met and wrote lyrics with famous American poet Alan Ginsberg. We meet John Cusack, get Strummer into the studio with Johnny Cash- a veritable who's who of the major icons of music, art and culture over the course of the past quarter century. Adrift after The Clash broke up, Strummer would eventually find love, happiness and mount a successful comeback to music with the Mescaleros that was tragically cut short by his sudden death. The best part about this book is discovering everything you thought you knew about The Clash, but didn't- and the saddest part about this book is wondering what might have been, had Strummer not shuffled off this mortal coil so suddenly.

    Overall: I love The Clash more for reading this book. I love their music, want all their albums, want a London Calling poster for my burgeoning man-cave and want to eat junk food and listen to their music with a beer in hand, loving life. I want to go Glastonbury and sit around a campfire and tell stories and talk about life. Although I didn't need a lot of convincing before, this book sealed the deal: Joe Strummer is, was and always will be the man.

  • Brian

    Simply one of the best rock'n'roll biographies I've ever read and I've read a LOT of them. Joe Strummer has been a hero of mine for ages. I first heard The Clash's London Calling in '79, and I admired his convictions and dug his music throughout his career until his untimely death at age 50 in 2002, when he was still making powerful music with The Mescaleros. Author Chris "Sandwich" Salewicz knew the man as a friend and journalist since his days before the Clash formed, but that doesn't mean he'

    Simply one of the best rock'n'roll biographies I've ever read and I've read a LOT of them. Joe Strummer has been a hero of mine for ages. I first heard The Clash's London Calling in '79, and I admired his convictions and dug his music throughout his career until his untimely death at age 50 in 2002, when he was still making powerful music with The Mescaleros. Author Chris "Sandwich" Salewicz knew the man as a friend and journalist since his days before the Clash formed, but that doesn't mean he's put him on a pedestal. Strummer was a complex, talented and intense person, and Salewicz captures that complexity and all of the contradictions that make him a real person: an ultimately flawed human being just like the rest of us---only more so, bigger than life in every way.

  • Jeff

    Despite a few flaws, Chris Salewicz' definitive biography of Joe Strummer is essential for Clash fans. Chris came to San Francisco last year on a book tour, and I was struck during the reading by how painful Joe's death was for Chris even after five years. Joe left his impression on a great many people. What I appreciate most about the book is that Joe's myth is debunked, and what we see in the pages is John Mellor, the melancholy poet and prankster who never really got over his brother's suicid

    Despite a few flaws, Chris Salewicz' definitive biography of Joe Strummer is essential for Clash fans. Chris came to San Francisco last year on a book tour, and I was struck during the reading by how painful Joe's death was for Chris even after five years. Joe left his impression on a great many people. What I appreciate most about the book is that Joe's myth is debunked, and what we see in the pages is John Mellor, the melancholy poet and prankster who never really got over his brother's suicide. We learn about Joe's womanizing and somewhat hypocritical (at times) political philosophies. But we also see that Joe genuinely cared about people - all people - and you could never ask for a truer friend. What comes through is that Joe was brilliant, but also confused, addicted, controlling, out of control, funny, mean, loving, and sad - in other words, human - a human who touched lives whether rockin' at Shea Stadium or holding court at the local pub. RIP Joe, and long live Strummerville!

  • Steve Bennett

    Very enjoyable, if too long, biography of Joe Strummer. Thankfully, Salewicz, despite apparently being good friends with Strummer, does not portray Strummer as an idol. The book does a very good job of deconstructing the myths about Joe Strummer and focuses more on John Mellor--a confused British youth from a somewhat fragmented family whose entire life probably was defined at age 18 by his slightly older brother's suicide after he got mixed up with the National Front. Strummer comes off not so

    Very enjoyable, if too long, biography of Joe Strummer. Thankfully, Salewicz, despite apparently being good friends with Strummer, does not portray Strummer as an idol. The book does a very good job of deconstructing the myths about Joe Strummer and focuses more on John Mellor--a confused British youth from a somewhat fragmented family whose entire life probably was defined at age 18 by his slightly older brother's suicide after he got mixed up with the National Front. Strummer comes off not so much as the person who wrote some of the greatest songs in rock history, but as a person who was confused, prone to depression, and very capable of making wretchedly bad decisions, but always earnest, a good friend, and looking for both meaning and a good time in life. In other words, a great man and a fantastic person to have a beer with at the neighborhood bar--even if he had never written a song in his life. Strummer's rebirth with The Mescaleros after 15 somewhat lost years after The Clash's demise was not only highly unlikely but also serves as some evidence that there really is a God out there looking over his preserve.

    On the negative side, this book could have used some serious editing. It goes into way too much exhaustive detail. At about 600 pages, it would have been much more enjoyable if about 1/3 of the material had been left out. In other words, much like The Clash's Sandinista!

  • Andy Carrington

    Take this somewhere. Read it. Absorb it.

WISE BOOK is in no way intended to support illegal activity. Use it at your risk. We uses Search API to find books/manuals but doesn´t host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners. Please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them


©2019 WISE BOOK - All rights reserved.