If there is something in my teens I remember very vividly is my excessive love for Punk Rock. It was everything for me. My interest in leftist and green politics had already initiated, however back in those days, hairstyle and dress code were more important than beliefs.

Later, during my early 20’s this passion started to fade away slowly, though I still loved the music. However, lyrics and real attitude started to become important. Political activism and music were both priorities in my life, and the combination of them still gets my adrenaline flowing. And if there are a group of people who can blend perfectly both things are definitely the band The Clash, especially the late front man Joe Strummer.

Apart from a great musician, Strummer was an idealist. A man who believed in a better world. Yet, what he believed in was nothing out of the ordinary, just a simple way of life. The problem with this world was (is) that ‘we’ve become dehumanised, all we need to do is put back the humanity in’. What he asked for is extremely simple, yet we seem to find it impossible. However, as he also stated ‘If we really want, we can change anything, literally anything’. Another thing I really believe in. Ok I’m a dreamer, but it does not mean I’m dumb. I can’t change the world, and I know it, however the eagerness and urgency to bring about change keeps my fire alight, even it means going against the stream.

It’s not an insignificant utopia. People have changed things, for better or for worse. Movements such as feminists, LGBT, human rights activists, and others have brought significant changes. If, in a Western context I say women should not be allowed to vote I’d be considered insane, yet not too long ago, I would have been considered as such if I said women should. We don’t ‘hide’ people with a disability anymore, more gays and lesbians are coming out, and a couple of war criminals are facing trials. The way forward, is still hard and long. However, courageous women and men stood out, demanded change and up to a certain extent brought it.

Back to The Clash. Some things they said during their career in the late 70’s and early 80’s was even subject to ridicule. These things are now the norm. Back in those days climate change was not an issue. It was mentioned by people considered as brainless hippies who got paranoid with excessive use of LSD. Yet, in the late 70’s The Clash wrote nearly prophetic words regarding this issue, in their song London Calling:

The ice age is coming

The sun zooming in

Meltdown expected

The wheat is growing thin

No one connected with such lyrics (the verse I wrote here just gives a glimpse of what they were talking about) back in those days and it needed courage to say them. Now, three decades later we are not saying it, unfortunately we are experiencing it. Maybe if more people took bands like The Clash together with other progressive forces such as some scientists and green activists, we will not find ourselves in the mess we’re in.

Strummer’s lifestyle also showed what kind of person he was. He didn’t just write lyrics and sing them. During the early teens his family was kicked out by the landlord because he kept bringing tramps to wash, eat and sleep in his house. As soon as The Clash became significant in the music scene they created the first Rock Against Racism concerts in areas where racism was rampant. Strummer also supported Trade Union movements by attending rallies, sometimes even organising them. His fame made them more attractive and the sense of urgency was visibly alarming.

I could keep on talking about this band for hours, but that would be quite boring I assume. If this has roused your interest follow these links or pass a comment or question on this blog.

Just a little idea of what The Clash are about: Know Your Rights and Career Opportunities