Bruce Springsteen, Lucinda Williams, Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke, Bob Weir, Steve Buscemi, Hinds, and others are all set to take part in a tribute livestream event to celebrate the life of The Clash frontman Joe Strummer. The two hour event, which will be called A Song for Joe: Celebrating the Life of Joe Strummer, will occur on Strummer’s birthday, August 21, at 3 pm eastern time.
Jesse Malin, who co-produced the event with Jeff Raspe and Joe Strummer estate manager David Zonshine, will host the event. “This tribute to Joe is not only a great way to honor him, but to also remind people how important his message is right now,” Malin said in a press release.
There is never a bad time to celebrate the phenomenon that is British punk rock, especially someone as influential to the genre as Joe Strummer. The Clash is perhaps the most influential punk rock band to share their music with the world, and their impact on music has emanated well into the 21 century through bands like the Pretenders, Blink-182, Rancid and Gorillaz. Even hip hop has seen an adoption of punk rock styles and beliefs in recent years, as mainstream artists like Lil Uzi Vert, Denzel Curry and JPEGMAFIA have adopted the same rebellious attitudes to their music that punk rock helped bring to mainstream culture.
The influence of punk rock is evident just in the amount and variety of individuals that will be involved in Strummer’s tribute show. The music itself of punk rock may not carry heavy mainstream appeal, but the sentiments and values expressed in the music are nearly universal. Nearly all forms of modern western music, beginning with jazz, are a call for freedom, and punk rock was one of the first manifestations of rock to take those calls of freedoms and shove them down the throats of those who would listen. Like jazz before it and hip hop after it, the older generations viewed punk rock as dangerous and against the status quo, while the younger generations viewed the music as a wake up call to society to see things from a differing perspective.
The tenants of punk rock are still extremely relevant today; 2020 has been an unstable year that has revealed major flaws in the American political system. While hindsight thus far has shown that earlier responses to the virus and earlier calls for social distancing and mask wearing could have prevented America from leading the world in coronavirus deaths, punk rock reveals deeper flaws in governmental practices that have plagued society for decades. It is not the first genre of music to criticize the government, nor the last, but the intensity and conviction in which punk rock challenged society was far ahead of its time. Simply put, the musings of artists like Strummer still ring true today.