Thankfully my formative years were spent listening to The Clash, and not Britney Spears. If that had been the case, I’m pretty sure my life would have turned out to be very different, and it’s probably safe to say - my company Gorgeous Things would not exist.
Punk was over by the time I was old enough to be forming my own preferences in music - Sid Vicous was dead, the safety pins and mohawks were thin on the ground and Malcolm McLaren had released, ’Buffalo Girls’. Those who lived to tell the tale, such as Henry Rollins and the Ramones kept making records with continued success. But the one man who stood out to me as more philosopher than musician was the lead singer of The Clash, Joe Strummer.
What I learnt from Joe Strummer has very little to do with Punk, and much more to do with being a compassionate and engaged human being – so I thought I share what he taught me.
Firstly, Joe Strummer taught me to question not just authority, but the entire idea of authority.
He encouraged a generation to know their rights.
Then, Joe Strummer taught me that listening was more important that speaking.
He took complex issues in politics and society and after listening to many points of view – distilled their complexity in simple, catchy lyrics. A few examples are Rock the Casbah (this one is still particually relevant today with the recent events in Iran), London Calling & Radio Clash.
Finally, Joe Strummer taught me that I should stand up for what I believe in and inspire others to do the same.
Well, it certainly wasn’t just Joe who inspired me to do this, but he’s helped keep me motivated at times when I’ve needed a push to keep going.
Sadly Joe Strummer died in 2002, but if you’d like an insight into the amazing man that he was, the documentary The Future is Unwritten is a great place to start – and I challenge not to want to change the world for the better upon watching it!