From Lucinda Williams singing “Straight to Hell” to Bob Weir telling a story about a drunken night with Joe Strummer, “A Song for Joe: Celebrating the Life of Joe Strummer” was both a passionate tribute to the late Clash frontman and a surprised-filled two hours. Jesse Malin hosted the online special, which featured performances and commentary by the artists above and others — including Bruce Springsteen, Jeff Tweedy, Brian Fallon and Tom Morello — plus previously unreleased performance and personal footage featuring Strummer himself.
There is no charge to watch but donations to saveourstages.com are being asked for. The organization seeks “to preserve and nurture the ecosystem of independent live music venues and promoters throughout the United States,” according to its website.
The special debuted on Aug. 21, and is still viewable on YouTube and joestrummer.com. (It also is embedded below.) Strummer was born on Aug. 21, 1952, and died in 2002 at the age of 50.
Highlights, for me, included Butch Walker’s introspective solo acoustic version of “London Calling”; Hinds’ sunny pop take on “Spanish Bombs”; former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer’s joyful, bouncy “Rudie Can’t Fail”; and a taut, propulsive version of “Train in Vain” by Josh Homme and Troy Van Leeuwen of Queens of the Stone Age.
Most artists performed songs written or co-written by Strummer or covered by The Clash, though Eugene Hütz of Gogol Bordello sang his own buoyant song about Strummer, “Raw Grace in Your Face (Everything Joe Said).” There were some band performances but many of the numbers were solo or duo efforts, recorded on (I’m assuming) cellphones; Nikolai Fraiture of The Strokes sang “Police and Thieves” while accompanying himself on ukulele.
Springsteen did not perform, but said the following: “Joe Strummer, my great, great departed friend and brother that I never had, you have been my inspiration for the past 40 years. Happy birthday, brother. God bless you.”
Malin co-produced the event with Jeff Raspe, music director of the public radio station 90.5 The Night (WBJB-FM, Lincroft); and Joe Strummer estate manager David Zonshine. Malin and Raspe have previously presented a series of Strummer tribute concerts in New Jersey and New York.
Here is the list of segments, in order. If no song is listed, that segment is just spoken-word.
“Police on My Back,” Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros (footage from 2001)
“Get Down Moses,” The Interrupters
“Death or Glory,” Jeff Tweedy
Spider Stacy (The Pogues)
“Bankrobber,” Tom Morello
“Johnny Appleseed,” Jesse Malin
Richard Dudanski (The 101ers)
“Spanish Bombs,” Hinds
Albert Hammond Jr. (The Strokes)
H.R. (Bad Brains)
“Washington Bullets,” Craig Finn and Tad Kubler
“Janie Jones,” Jesse Dayton
“I Fought the Law,” Joe Ely
Cait O’Riordan (The Pogues)
“Long Shadow,” Brian Fallon
“Charlie Don’t Surf,” Cherry Glazerr
“Tommy Gun,” Dropkick Murphys
“Police and Thieves,” Nikolai Fraiture
“London Calling,” Butch Walker
Joe Strummer personal films
“Train in Vain,” Josh Homme and Troy Van Leeuwen
“(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais, Frank Turner
“Rudie Can’t Fail,” Josh Klinghoffer
“Silver and Gold,” Lyza Jane and C.C. Adcock
“Straight to Hell,” Lucinda Williams
“Coma Girl,” Dave Hause
“Raw Grace in Your Face (Everything Joe Said),” Eugene Hütz
“Death or Glory,” Jesse Malin and Bob Weir
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