display | more...

The unofficial eulogy for punk rock, written by Mick Jones, who had been fired from The Clash in 1983 and went on to form a completely new band of many incarnations known as Big Audio Dynamite. While The Clash attempted to go on without Jones, he was busy making light of all the things that had been colorized as so heavy by his former band. In the mid to late 1980s, Big Audio Dynamite knew how to play the field. This was a new world where people didn't want to be hit over the head unless they could smile along the way. Everything had changed, perhaps for better and perhaps for worse. The man who was the melody and the rhythm of The Clash was proving he could do it a different way. It was sort of how Keith Richards proved he could do it better than Mick Jagger or The Rolling Stones without him there.

Mummy was a hostess Daddy was a drunk
`Cos they didn`t love me then I turned out a punk
An ex house full of memories, memories and junk
Never had a childhood I turned out a punk

Mick Jones was paired with Joe Strummer in The Clash, but while Strummer was actually from a rather well to do family, his father being a diplomat, Mick Jones was the working class hero. He was willing to do anything to make his mark, including the shock value of calling the band he was in before The Clash "The London SS." So, while Joe Strummer attempted to keep The Clash going with an album called Cut the Crap that was the equivalent of a Beatles album recorded by Paul McCartney and Wings, Mick Jones got all funky and crazy and just went out on a wing and a prayer. Hit me in the head with a rock you purists, but Big Audio Dynamite could put together a record.

Better learn how to play guitar with a plink and a plunk
I didn`t like jazz I didn`t like funk
I turned out a punk
I turned out a punk

Mick Jones and Joe Strummer wouldn't talk for years, but would later get back on speaking terms. According to an interview with Joe Strummer a few years ago I can no longer locate, they had to talk again because of their children. Hell of a thing for a couple of punks to do. Years after firing Mick Jones for "being lazy," Strummer later told those who would listen, "I stabbed him in the back."

Slowly started slipping down till my ship was sunk
Going nowhere in my life I turned out a punk
Didn`t care `bout anyone sat round smoking skunk
Didn`t know what I had done I turned out a punk

Every band and every successful venture into what is ostenaneously called entertainment calls for a joker and a thief. There is no doubt in my mind that Joe Strummer was the thief and Mick Jones was the joker when it came to The Clash. One can often make it without a thief, but you always need a joker. The joker is the wild card. He or she does what she will and never gives that much thought to what will come. Those of us who are thieves starve without a joker in our deck.

Better learn how to play guitar with a plink and a plunk
I didn`t like jazz I didn`t like funk
I turned out a punk
I turned out a punk

Musicians and entertainers and those with something to say. It was a weird world when it came to punk, because the lines were so marvelously blurred. If you are coming for some rock and roll, why are you looking for impressive musical talent? You want a song to chant along to or do you want musical history? So many rockers pretending to be the best in the world at their specific musical focus and yet if so, why are they in rock and roll? This is about playing two chords and shouting at the moon. Or is it?

Better learn how to play guitar with a plink and a plunk
I didn`t like jazz I didn`t like funk
I turned out a punk
I turned out a punk

The sarcasm and wit that Mick Jones injected into The Clash went with him to Big Audio Dynamite. You had to be able to make fun of yourself to survive as a punk in the 1980s. People were buying into the whole money and material goods thing, and what were the punks trying to say anyway? Those who made it had wallets stuffed with money, nice homes and fine cars. It was all a big joke. One right turn and you have it all. One wrong turn and you're living in the gutter.

Woke up one afternoon with a mouth full of gunk
Blob out with my video I turned out a punk
Took my disabilities packed them in a trunk
Rock `n roll`s alright by me I turned out a punk

Can punk rockers make it big, live large and then just enjoy the fuck out of themselves when they do? Sure, wasn't that part of the point? John Lydon showed us that through much of his work with Public Image Limited. You have to come clean at some point and stop pretending you're a poor ghetto kid scraping for change in the street. You still have a message, but hell, you aren't really depressed about life anymore, are you? You're living large. No one is paying attention any longer if you keep pretending.

Better learn how to play guitar with a plink and a plunk
I didn`t like jazz I didn`t like funk
I turned out a punk
I turned out a punk

Rest in peace, Joe Strummer.


Lyrics by Mick Jones and Andre Shapps
Copyright The Voice of London (BMI)
You can hear this on the Big Audio Dynamite Greatest Hits Collections
Its origins are mysterious.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.