Ten years ago today, Joe Strummer, singer for the Clash, died.
The Clash are one of my all-time favourite bands. There might be contemporary bands that I really, really love, or get into for a while, but the Clash has always been there. I’ve always loved them.
Their music has always really spoken to me and still feels relevant today. I think they’re the best/most important/greatest band of the 20th century. And I love saying that when Beatles/Rolling Stones die-hards are within ear shot, just to watch their brains explode. “Please Please Me” or “Satisfaction” doesn’t say anything to me. “Lost in the Supermarket”, on the other hand, is more accessible.
I remember being home from college for Christmas in 2002, sleeping on the floor of the office room at my parents’ house (they moved houses just before the start of the school year, so I’ve never really had a room at that house). I used to listen to music all night, every night when I was younger (still do, sometimes), so I had my earphones in and happened to be awake for a few minutes when the radio news came on at 3 or 4AM.
Joe Strummer was dead.
Favourite musicians and artists have died before, many falling victim to the 27 club. I’d be sad, listen to all their records for a few days straight until it faded from the forefront of my mind.
This time, though, I just remember feeling so sad. Music was dead. Punk was dead, like, literally.
Maybe it was because I was in a weird half-waking/half-sleeping, middle of the night, twilight sort of headspace (which I actually quite enjoy), but I remember thinking that it was just going to put a damper on Christmas.
The very next news story was about a family that was murdered in their home in Michigan.
I thought “fuck this, Christmas is cancelled. This is why we can’t have nice things”, etc.
And that, my friends, is when my Christmas spirit died for the next 10 years.
After that, I didn’t want presents, I didn’t want pretty papers and ribbons and cards and lights, I didn’t want random people wishing me a Merry Christmas. It was an overblown holiday that people clearly didn’t really enjoy, because bad shit kept happening and people kept being horrible to one another.
It still makes me sad when shitty things happen at times when people are supposed to be extra warm and fuzzy. But it makes me sad when shitty things happen on gloomy March days, too. It makes me sad and stressed out when I’m made to feel like 8 hours of overtime in the week before Christmas isn’t enough.
Shitty things will always happen, but totally amazing, faith-in-humanity-restored moments will too.
And so, the Girl Who Rolled Her Eyes At Christmas For a Decade is getting excited for Christmas (or whatever…). After 10 years of bah-humbugging, I admit, I’m still a little… shy? nervous? to admit that I’m actually excited for Christmas.
This is why, with a day and half to go until Christmas Eve, I’m “pressure crafting”. Knitting my fingers to the bone, non-stop, to get gifts done. One slipper left and then a pair of mittens to sew. Oh, and maybe bake.
So yeah, bad things happen. But then they stop. They don’t last forever. And we’ll always have memories of favourite things. Joe Strummer may be dead, but his music isn’t.
As we enter in to this new era of positivity and enlightenment, I think it was just time for me to give up the ghost in my Scroogieness. Appreciate the good and wonderful in every day and spend more time doing what makes me happy.
So be good to each other and enjoy whatever it is you have planned this weekend and next week! I have mountains of yarn to get back to!
PS: here’s one more video, just because it’s so good. One of my favourites, “Clampdown”.