On Friday, Leading Us Absurd turned two years old. It’s hard to believe that it’s been this long. When I originally started this blog, my intentions were pretty modest. It was mainly just an outlet for my writing, which at the time I had been doing very little of. For the first few months, it wasn’t even strictly a music blog – though music was a subject I focused on a lot.
Since then, I’ve managed to get 53,000 views, hundreds of comments, and 134 subscribers. If you had asked me two years ago whether I thought this would happen, I probably would have laughed at the thought. For a long time, it seemed that no one was reading. Even as I gained more readers and hits, I feel that I didn’t really capture a voice until earlier this year.
My hope is that even if you disagree with some of my thoughts, that it’s coherent and my arguments are sound. I’ve always known a lot about music, but it’s been humbling to find out how much I don’t know and how much more I have to learn. There’s always new artists to check out, and ones who have been dead for decades I’ve only just learned about.
Whether you’ve been reading for awhile or a newer, I want to thank you for taking the time to let me indulge in my passion for music. I’ve truly appreciated all of the comments over the past years – it’s meant a lot to me and made me a stronger writer.
I also want to thank my friends at Randomville, Vulture Hound, and The Musebox for all the fantastic writing opportunities given to me. Special thanks to my girlfriend, Lindsey who has been a constant supporter of the blog (and me) even when no one else was reading. And of course to Kevin, Pete and Sean whose wide range of musical knowledge keeps me in check.
Thanks for reading,
I recently read the feature on The Clash in the new issue of Rolling Stone. While it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know about the band, it certainly reminded me of why I love them so much.
In 2003, when I saw Pearl Jam in Pittsburgh while in college, I decided to wear one of my Clash t-shirts. For a long time, my concert credo was not to wear the shirt of the band you were seeing, unless you purchased one at the show. One fan saw my shirt. “Pearl Jam doesn’t like The Clash!” He yelled at me. I brushed him off, because I knew he was wrong. Later on during the show, when Pearl Jam busted out a cover of The Clash’s “Know Your Rights”, I seemed to be one of the few that recognized the song and cheered loudly when Eddie Vedder shouted its famous line: “This is a public service announcement with guitar!”
I discovered The Clash sometime in high school. I had been exposed to a few songs – “London Calling”, “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” through mix tapes my sister made for me. But on my 18th birthday, I received a copy of their live album From Here to Eternity from my older brother. From the beginning of the opening song – “Complete Control” – I knew right away that this would be a band that I could identify with. Here a band cutting down their own record company in song – they weren’t going to bullied by anybody. The backing vocals which point out that “CON” is spelled out in the middle of “control” were captivating. Strummer was clearly drawing a line. You could either go with them, or be left behind. I quickly knew which side I was on.
I’ve often joked that I credit The Clash with moving me towards a leftist way of thinking. And while it’s certainly true that songs such as “Clampdown”, “London Calling” and “Career Opportunities” are Marxist theories put to thrashing music, The Clash opened a lot more doors than a political awakening.
The Clash incorporated world-music into their repertoire, which eventually lead me to seek out some of these sounds. The only reggae artist that I knew before listening to The Clash was Bob Marley, but soon I was scooping up albums by Jimmy Cliff and Toots and the Maytals.
When Joe Strummer died in December of 2002, it was the first time I felt a void when a star died. If The Clash were the “CNN of rock”, then Strummer was its Walter Cronkite – providing positive insight into a world that seemed to veer out of control. While other bands have attempted to take The Clash’s place of political rock for a new generation – particularly Rage Against the Machine – none of them succeeded on the same level. The Clash made have been “the only band that mattered” but they were also one of the few bands that were really were for the people.
You can thank the bar I went to over the weekend in Greenwich Village for the inspiration for this week’s theme. They played old-school soul music for hours straight. It really might be the best-bar music I’ve ever heard. I won’t officially start posting this week’s theme until tomorrow, but here’s a preview of this week’s theme – the great and perhaps (under appreciated) James Jamerson.