'A Tale of Too Many Cities: The Clash’s "Ghetto defendant" and Transnational Disruptions'. Symbiosis 14.1 (April 2010)

Author: Peacock, James

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Humanities-Ebooks ‘Reprint’, 2012. 26 pages, 420kb PDF.
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This essay was originally published in Symbiosis: A Journal of Anglo-American Literary Relations, Volume 14.1 (April 2010) pp 19-42

From this Essay:

If anyone remains in any doubt that Joe Strummer fancied himself as something of a Beat, then he or she need only look at the photograph adorning the cover of the lyrics booklet in The Clash on Broadway box set (1991). The Clash’s very own gutter poet sits at a table in a room which is otherwise bare. His tie is artfully loosened, he has a cigarette in his mouth, his hair is greased and expertly quiffed. The visual echoes of Jack Kerouac are unmistakable, yet the absolute clincher is the long scroll of paper upon which Strummer is spontaneously pouring forth his lyrics. Deftly, the image speaks of Strummer’s rebellious cool, his dedication to his art, and his prolificacy, all characteristics he shared with Kerouac.

Though on The Clash’s eponymous debut album he famously claimed, in the interests of defining his place and time as a radical break with the past, to be bored with the U.S.A., Strummer’s lyrics on later albums showed an increasing fascination with the place, and he clearly felt an affiliation for the restless protesters of twentieth-century American culture. In the early seventies, for example, he insisted on being called ‘Woody’ in tribute to Woody Guthrie, whose depictions of working-class masculinity became a significant influence on both the style and the ethics of the Beats (Lawlor

About the author

Affiliation: University of Keele

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