The Call Up

It's taken a while but I've finally discovered filesharing, specifically LimeWire. Where untold riches are just a click or two away. Now I can go about recovering all the lost songs, as well as finding all those other songsters I never knew about before. Like bluesman Kelly Joe Phelps. Or dread masters Peter Broggs and Ken Boothe. Or the post-Clash work of Joe Strummer with the Mescaleros, which I knew about but had never heard. And The Mekons, whose song Ghosts of American Astronauts has haunted me for years. And much, much more. The only limit is that my provider places on downloads but there will be ways around that, too.

When the bombs went off on the Underground ten days ago I started hearing The Clash anthem London Calling in my head and went online to find it. That led me on to their extraordinary six side, 36 song set Sandinista!, which I used to own on vinyl but, not having a system to play it, let go earlier this year. And from there onto Broggs and Boothe et al. Wonderful. My own little cd factory because I still prefer to play music away from the computer. It is as if I have once again intersected with a parallel life that, while it has never gone away, has for long periods been accessible only in memory, not actual auditory presence. This because of changing formats, accidents of fate (like having my record collection stolen from a party by, reputedly, Hells Angels) and, most of all, by the intermittently vagabond life I've led.

I can still remember the moment music came into my life. I was about twelve. It was a Sunday night, I was in the bathroom of the house we lived in, above and behind a chemist shop in Greytown. The radio was playing and I heard, incredibly, Gerry and the Pacemakers sing How Do You Do What You Do To Me? (I wish I knew ... ). Not the first time I'd heard the radio, but the first time it sang to me. It was clear, so clear. The song was not just about and for me, it was for and about everyone I knew and all the things we suffered and desired and hoped for and loved. And that's stayed true, for my g-g-g-g-g-generation as well as those pre and post ...

Anyway, my revisiting of The Clash has given back one of my favourite songs. I haven't yet learned how to link to music (but I will, I will) so in lieu of that I'll just, because they seem still entirely relevant and resonant, quote the lyrics:

It's up to you not to heed the call up
You must not act the way you were brought up
Who knows the reason why you have grown up
Who knows the plans or why they were drawn up

It's up to you not to heed the call up
I don't want to die
It's up to you not to hear the call up
I don't want to kill
For he who will die is he who will kill

Maybe I want to see the wheatfields
Over Kiev and down to the sea ...

All the young people down the ages
They gladly marched off to die
Proud city fathers used to watch them
Tears in their eyes ...

There is a rose that I want to live for
Although God knows I may not have met her
There is a dance and I should be with her
There is a town unlike any other ...


Who gives you work and why should you do it ...

Fifty-five minutes past eleven ...

There is a rose ...

Fade out with refrain and chant:

Hup, two, three, four, I love the Marine Corp ...


richard lopez said...

yes. the clash were a great band and joe strummer never left his principles, he was one of those chaps who aged well, the music never left him, and he never, for lack of a better phrase, took the money and ran. beautiful song, and so apropo of the horrible events in london last week.

i also go thru stages where music becomes obsessive to me. tho i've not lost my passion and love of it. as i get older my love for music has expanded to music(s) of all sorts and genres. bit less militant about it now, then i was when music was life and death. now music is simply life.

Martin Edmond said...

Here's an interesting site richard:


someone apparently re-doing (all? some of?) Sandinista! as a tribute ... already some good tracks there.