Friday, 22 December 2017
Some Dreams Are Made For Children
Fifteen years ago today Joe Strummer returned from walking his dogs, sat down in front of his fire and died from an undiagnosed heart defect. I was out Christmas shopping and heard about it by text from my wife, then a friend, then another friend.
In 1990 Joe was deep into his wilderness years. He wrote a song that appeared in a film called I Hired A Contract Killer. Burning Lights is a little under three minutes long, just Joe and a chugging Telecaster riff for company, but it contains possibly his best lyrics, post-Clash.
'Some dreams are made for children
But most grow old with us
And when the air can hope to hold on
And to the ground from dust to rust
And I've been a long haul driver
Moving things but the cops don't know
Now I can see the writing
You are the last of the buffalo
Now I've been to California
And I've been to New South Wales
Sometimes I, I pull over
When I realise I've left no trace
Burning lights in the desert
Such a sign only you would know
Your running tyres, they're out of pressure
Such a sign only you would know.'
Burning Lights seems completely autobiographical to me, a man looking in the mirror. His era-defining band well behind him- a band which split up because, as he has realised, he made bad decisions and took bad advice- and here he is confronting a future which doesn't seem to have a place for the ex-leader of The Clash, the last of the buffalo, a man who believes he has left no trace. Pretty good eh? Rest in peace Joe.