Saturday, July 01, 2006

No More Heroes

I did try to like The Clash. I had a few of their albums on tape and I played them over and over again, trying to connect. I didn't get it, though. It just sounded like so much barking, heavy-handed bluster.

John Cusack has never really crossed my cultural path. Was he in that bollocks about John Malkovich's head? That was utter bollocks, wasn't it? And wasn't he in some Nick Hornby tripe that I never saw? Or did I see it? Playing some wanker who works in a record shop, some anal retentive who's had at least five girlfriends in his lifetime. Oh yeah? Dream on, buddy boy!

But recent blog reading has alerted me to the possibility that Mr Cusack is some kind of sex symbol. And then I am nudged in the direction of his blog which includes this little gem from November, a transcript of a speech he made at a Joe Strummer tribute in Scotland. Now this is absolutely hilarious...

"There was no one like Joe Strummer. There is a lineage, of course.

Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan...I was always staggered by his voice. It was like a shaman should sound. If Roy Orbision sang for the lonely, Joe sang for the hungry.... His voice was liquid desire and it ignited as it left his mouth, his body shaking to contain the heat, like a rocket in the first phase of lift-off.... He was a pioneer who demanded art and politics be fused in the interests of humanity and truth. Often the truth was painful, just as often it was liberating, transcendent, and just plain fun. He was an icon of unrivaled integrity... Billy Brag said if it weren't for The Clash, punk rock would be just a sneer, a safety pin and a pair of bondage trousers... it sounds right to me... It's been said Strummer reinvented rock. That sounds right too. I know for certain he challenged, inspired and demanded us to think and feel in ways we hadn't before... demanded we use rebellion and anger as fuel for the journey to other, better worlds, never as an end in itself. Demanded we reach for the transcendent in everything and everyone, and to never suffer those fools who will not think and feel their way home. He was a guiding light and he got us out of many a tough jam. Knowing him, I was always humbled by his grace and intelligence, his passion, and the sheer ferocity of his will... and Jesus Christ that man could fucking rock."

I mean, I'm sorry he's gone and all but Strummer was shit, wasn't he? I bet poor old Bon Scott doesn't get such a hagiography anywhere and he was just as shit.

And I'm so glad that "Billy Brag" is quoted. Of course if it weren't for The Clash we'd only have had the Pistols, the Buzzcocks, the Banshees, Wire, The Stranglers, The Ruts, The Skids and many other British punk bands who could hold a tune.


  1. Nice one Geoff, I thought the Clash were shite as well. I lost all vestiges of respect I may have had for Strummer when he was filmed off his brain at Glastonbury just before he died. Everyone's round him doing the arse-licky bollocks but I just thought if they'd met him on the train like that they would have changed seats thinking he was just another stoner talking out of his arse. Give me Bon Scott over him anyday - no pretence at all.

    There is gossip about John Cusack playing Rory in a mooted biopic. Although I'm not sure a film about a gentle-natured blues-rocker who never hurt anyone or made plastic pronouncements on all kinds of non-music related toot and actually made it 20 years past the rock and roll sign out age of 27, would have any mileage. A job for the Fleesh in a few years maybe.

  2. Glastonbury and dope isn't all that punk is it?

  3. Joe Strummer's ill-fitting dentures symbolise the tawdry myth of rock 'n' roll. Like Richie Blackmore's wigs, and Ricky Martin's 'girlfriends'.

  4. There ought to be a plaque to commemorate The Gums of Brixton.

  5. The Clash. Meh.
    Wire are loads better.

  6. You're too young to understand, Billy.

    You weren't there at the Hammy Pally with 2,000 of us white rioters. I remember Phill Jupitus being lifted over my head on his way to the front. I thought it was raining.

  7. Oh, I quite liked Cusack till I read that - what a load of old bollocks, eh?

    (and "I remember Phill Jupitus being lifted over my head on his way to the front. I thought it was raining." *giggles*)

  8. "There is a lineage, of course."

    Oh yes, of course. English public schoolboys playing at being dispossessed.

  9. "Billy Brag said if it weren't for The Clash, punk rock would be just a sneer, a safety pin and a pair of bondage trousers.."

    But I thought that that was exactly what it was meant to be?

  10. ooooh, john cusack


    i think it's the fact of his wonky teeth in a nation of the orthodontically-enhanced

  11. Er, dead rockers, eh? Most of my records are by dead men, and the ones that aren't dead don't really deserve to still be alive.

    Punk - I think you've hit the number there, Richard.

    Ritchie Blackmore's wigs - eugh, that's a really nasty thought.

    Public schoolboys? I'm dreadfully middle-class and obsessed with my finger-rolls...and I have a Latin o-level. So a worthwhile investment there, then.

    swlrp; what the prefects made me do

  12. I love The Clash, but like all successful politically motivated bands, they're hugely overated. But they wrote some great tunes. In my honest opinion of course.

    Like all revolutionary rockers, Strummer faced the problem of what to do when you get old. The smart ones corpse it as early as possible to preserve the myth. The unfortunate live on to degrade in front of us all...

  13. Don't get me started on old public schoolboy Joe. The Clash were so political and right-on that they harboured at least one junky and at least one coke head. How radical.
    The Clash always pandered to the lowest common denominator.
    And as for Billy Bragg ...