Hey Joe Strummer

The poem’s call-out “Hey Joe” became the first notes of the bass line via the DNA method. Everything else built upon that dub foundation. The flute lines are all DNA’s from the vocal.

John Trudell’s ode to Elvis (Baby Boom Che) and the dub poetry of Linton Kwesi Johnson were key references and inspirations, in addition to the punk godfather himself.

Hey Joe Strummer

Hey Joe Strummer

I was reading Sylvia Plath on the day you died
Cold and gray outside
No techno deejay, no ragga fm
Just dead winter air (then: “late news breaking, this just in . . .”)
Joe Strummer dead and gone? Say it ain’t so
Hey Joe
Back in ’79 I enrolled in Telecaster University
and took your course
on Urban Planning
and Geopolitics 101 (call us the 101-ers)
Joe Strummer, Instructor
first assignment:
plot the Global a Go-Go and locate the map of the soul
“ok punk rockers, can you find these cities on the map?
Clash City Rockers
the lost city
the forbidden city
the reggae city
the new city
the city of nerves
the city of the dead
Ho Chi Minh city
bummed out city
& the inoculated city
in the nefarious zone”
second assignment: find
london, brixton
& third millennium britain
“this is england”
mid-term exam: travel
the sweetheart highway
and drive a brand new cadillac on the road to rock ‘n’ roll
and punk rock’s what it’s all about
(back when punk meant freedom)
final exam: know
your rights
& walk down the highroad
Hey Joe,
we’re your students, your little brothers & sisters
ten thousand bands
a hundred thousand gutter poets &
a million ghetto prophets
lingo graffiti and western spaghetti
punk rock ph.d’s
Hey Joe, you always took the highroad
even when you skipped out to Paris
and we
forgave you for cut the crap, everybody goes crazy sometime
chalk it up to cigarette butts & earthquake weather
Hey Joe,
human typewriter, lyrical link between lee dorsey and lee perry,
between allen ginsberg and zach de la rocha,
between long-gone rockabillies and the next shake-it-up rastapunk
Where you going with that revolution in your head?
Hey Joe,
Where you going with that revolution in your head?
Mensforth Hill
Willesden to Cricklewood
Hammersmith Palais to Garageland
Grenada, Andalucia
& Kingston
Costa Rica, El Salvador
oh ma corazon
(and why didn’t my professors tell me about the Sandinistas?)
Hey Joe, Mescalero
Where you going?
Grooving, you cut out of the scene
I was reading Sylvia Plath on the day you died
I was reading Sylvia Plath on the day you died


–Jr. James

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