"Candidates Clash in Debate" is way too common a headline, and I have way too often joked that the Clash in a debate would be a good thing.Beto O’Rourke just said Ted Cruz is “working for the clampdown” #Beto #BetoORourke pic.twitter.com/FQO9rLv3Ee— fritz araya (@fritzaraya) September 22, 2018
Finally, someone really did it.
Beto O'Rourke's reference to side two, track four on London Calling has won him a permanent place in my heart.
"Working for the clampdown" is not the MOST radical Clash reference Beto could have made - the very next song asks "when they kick at your front door, how you gonna come, with your hands on your hear or on the trigger of your gun" - but it's not a weak "should I stay or should I go" joke either. The opening line neofascism reference is sadly even more relevant now:
@rock_hall thanks for letting us in the vault to see the handwritten Clash lyrics! History. pic.twitter.com/1S6erwXrNd— Nick Hexum (@NickHexum) July 13, 2016
(The most offensive Clash reference I ever saw in politics was Giuliani using "Rudie Can't Fail" as rally music...)
I always wondered if the line "kick over the wall, cause governments to fall" was "kick over the wall BEcause government is going to fall" or if "cause governments to fall" was an instruction to the listener to overthrow the government.
If you are lucky, a band comes along in your formative years that changes your life. I was lucky enough that when I was 16, Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Topper Headon were there for me. I've gotten kicked a bit the last few years for being too pragmatist or too "establishment," but my roots, my catalyst that started me on the road I've been on now close to 30 years, are Clash. In the end I did cause governments to fall, in a small way, by knocking on doors and making lists.
By coincidence, I have been on one of my periodic obsessive kicks and for the last three weeks I have been listening to nothing but the Clash. I'm on a weekend road trip and on the way I listed to Sandinista, all the way through, uninterrupted. Even the biggest Clash fans know that's a true test of loyalty.
This morning I've prepped a quick primer for Clash neophytes who may want to work their way in. O'Rourke has offered the best starting point. Here's the order in which to learn the Clash.
1: London Calling - flawless from the iconic title track to the concluding hidden hit "Train In Vain."
2: The Clash (first album) US version - I may be a heretic here. But the US release cuts a few weak songs from the original UK version and adds some key singles including "Complete Control," "White Man in Hammersmith Palais," and "I Fought The Law." I cheated and homeburned a custom version that includes all the songs from both versions of the album, plus a few other early songs found on...
3: A good compilation such as The Essential Clash which includes the best of the other albums and some more singles.
4: Combat Rock, side one: the two biggest hits and two great album cuts, "Know Your Rights" and "Straight To Hell."
5: Sandinista. You needed the rest for a warmup. Sandinista requires commitment. Plenty of rewards but at 2 1/2 hours (six vinyl sides, two full CDs) it is literally marathon length.
6: The Clash, original UK version. If you survived Sandinista you're hooked and moving toward completism. Four songs here you don't have yet. Short and fast except for the breakthough cover of "Police And Thieves" (also on the US version).
7: Give `Em Enough Rope. The second album is a corporate-influenced attempt to crack the US market but the opening salvo of "Safe European Home," "English Civil War" and "Tommy Gun" is first rate. Also don't miss "Stay Free."
8: Side two of Combat Rock and/or the unreleased original mix of the album, originally titled and generally bootlegged as Rat Patrol At Fort Bragg.
9: Various compilations like Super Black Market Clash to fill in the pieces.
10: Mick Jones' solo work with Big Audio Dynamite.
11: Joe Strummer's Earthquake Weather (1989) and his late Mescaleros albums (three albums 1999-2003).
12: Joe Strummer's late 80s soundtrack albums - mainly instrumental but a couple vocal tracks.
954: A bad Sex Pistols bootleg from after Johnny Rotten left the band
8321: A post-2000 Motley Crue album
22,038: Cut The Crap. Released in 1985 after Strummer kicked Jones out of the band and immediately regretted it, this is Clash in name only and the worst thing Strummer ever recorded. To be avoided.
If you want everything all at once (except Cut The Crap) there is a beautiful but expensive box set called Sound System personally designed by Paul Simonon that includes all sorts of fanzines and stickers and buttons like we had back then.
Even I don't own that one but considering how bad CBS ripped them off I'm sure a download would be morally justified... meanwhile my vinyl Sandinista is framed and on my wall, to remind me where I started. And the world is a lesser place without Joe Strummer, who we REALLY need right now.