A strong opponent of the scary UK right wing politics of the late 70s, Strummer carved out status as a passionate left-of-center hero to many. He was also one of the first artists to make his music production carbon neutral and was an early and eager supporter of the organization Future Forests - now called The Carbon Neutral Company. After his death, his wife set up Strummerville, a non-profit organization that helps unsighed artists with practice space and support.
All that being said, in the end I think one of the best ways to remember Strummer is through his words. As a lyric writer, he was a man of words after all. With that, here are just a few things Joe either wrote, sang or said that I think deliver truth and, in most cases, are still highly relevant today...
"All the power in the ands of the people rich enough to buy it...while we walk the streets, too chicken to even try it. Everbody's doing just what their told to and nobody wants to go to jail." - from the song White Riot
"You should get to know your town like I know mine." - from the song City of the Dead
"I have people come up to me and say, because of your band I decided to finish school, because of your band I majored in political science." - Joe's comments about Clash fans
"'Cause the wild side of life is one that you need." - from the song Midnight to Stevens
(Right: An older Strummer with his last band, the Mescaleros. Picture taken by ???)
"I think we're going to have to forget about the radio and just go back to word of mouth."
"When you blame yourself, you learn from it. If you blame someone else, you don't learn nothing, cause hey, it's not your fault, it's his fault, over there.” - Joe observation about music and radio
"Monday's coming like a jail on wheels!" - from the song 48 Hours
When asked by someone if he'd rather be a ticket collector or a garbage man, Strummer said, "A garbage man because at least then you would move about town and see people." - from the movie Lets Rock Again
Music by Joe Strummer that you should check out:
- The Clash - London Calling
- Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros - Global A Go Go
- The 101'ers - Elgin Avenue Breakdown
And you can check Joe out in a documentary film about his life titled "The Future Is Unwritten."