A delayed but very special playlist for this week. Today would have been Joe Strummer’s 68th birthday. To celebrate, a group of musicians is doing [a virtual tribute concert](https://www.joestrummer.com) for Joe later today. Sadly I’ll be running around getting the girls then heading to kickball, but I will certainly be watching a replay over the weekend.
As Strummer is on my Mt. Rushmore of influential musicians, seems like I should honor him as well. So here is a playlist of some of his best songs.
Spotify and/or WordPress is being a bitch today. Follow this link to hear the songs.
“Keys to Your Heart” – The 101ers.
The only really quality song from his pre-Clash band, you can hear seeds of his post-Clash sound in it.
“Career Opportunities” – The Clash
From their debut album, I’ve always thought this song was the best example of Joe talking about what was going on in the United Kingdom for young people in the mid-70s.
“Safe European Home” – The Clash
Joe was obsessed with the music that came from Jamaica and was played in the Jamaican immigrant communities in London. Off their second album, *Give ‘Em Enough Rope*, he makes fun of himself for building up Jamaica as a utopia only to learn that the country was in the midst of a period of serious gun violence upon his first visit. The band was hustled out of their recording studio just before an armed gang arrived with intent to teach the latest rich, white, British band to show up in Kingston a lesson.
“Clampdown” – The Clash
Off the legendary *London Calling*, I don’t know if Joe ever spoke better about the conflict between labor and management as well as he did on this track. You also hear the great interplay between Strummer and Mick Jones.
“The Magnificent Seven” – The Clash
Blondie gets all the credit for being one of the first white bands to embrace hip-hop. But Joe and the Clash were right there with Blondie. This is from 1981’s *Sandinista*.
“The Street Parade” – The Clash
Also from *Sandinista*, an album loaded with stridently political songs, is this magical song that sounds like nothing else The Clash ever recorded.
“This Is England” – The Clash
1985’s *Cut the Crap* album is often left out of official Clash discographies. With good reason. Joe had kicked out both drummer Topper Headon and Jones, his writing partner. He and Paul Simonon attempted to carry on, but losing Jones robbed Joe of the perfect song-writing counter. The band did manage to capture their old mojo on this track, though, a snapshot of life in Margaret Thatcher’s England.
“Love Kills” – Joe Strummer
His first solo single, it appeared on the soundtrack for the movie *Sid and Nancy*, about the life of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious.
“Diggin’ The New” – Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros
By 1990 Joe began to find his solo stride, and this song was a bright, warm confirmation that he remained relevant.
“Bhindi Bhagee” – Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros
Joe grew up traveling the world thanks to his father’s career as a diplomat. He loved music from all over the world, not just Jamaica, and championed it throughout his career. Here he celebrates not only world music, but the many, diverse neighborhoods of London that are populated by immigrants.
“Arms Aloft” – Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros.
Joe died unexpectedly in December 2002. He and the Mescaleros had begun work on what became his final album,. *Streetcore*. While many of the songs were incomplete, and sounded so on the final, posthumous release, a few, like this, were fully formed and captured the energy from early in his career. He seemed poised to be an important part of the music world deep into his life before his sudden passing.
“Rock the Casbah” – The Clash
I remember this song absolutely blowing my 11-year-old mind. And then this ridiculous video made it an unforgettable song. RIP, Joe.