Saturday, 8 August 2020
Though I Will Disappear
Something about the heat we've had in the twenty four hours put me in mind of this song by The Clash yesterday evening, one of my favourite Clash songs. The Street Parade is buried deep into Sandinista! at the end of side 5, song 30 out of 36, but it is a joy and a moment of light breaking through the clouds (Joe's existential dread and the melancholy of the instrumentation notwithstanding). Placing it where they did, it comes at the listener like buried treasure, after the smokers backwards soundscape of Mensforth Hill, the murky rockabilly of Junkie Slip and the roots- rock- reggae of Kingston Advice, a reward for getting this far.
Fading in on a Caribbean rhythm and some echo, Topper effortlessly finding the beat, Joe's vocal comes in as if from his bed, a man drained, 'when I was waiting for your phone call/ the one that never came/ like a man about to burst/ I was dying of thirst'. Horn stabs add to the tropical feeling and then a beautiful, circling, haunting Mick Jones guitar riff, offbeat and out of time. Joe builds on his theme of being lost and of wanting 'to disappear/ into the street parade'. Youth culture/ pop culture and punk often takes the Prisoner approach, of demanding to be a free man not a number, of being an individual and not one of the crowd, but Joe wants to slip into the parade and be lost among the mass of people, hiding himself. Maybe this is why they enjoyed New York so much during 1980, they had an anonymity there that suited them and that freed them. The horns and marimba build while Topper's martial, marching beat powers the song on, Mick's guitar riff echoing round and round. Joe continues 'I was in this place/ by the first church of the city/ I saw tears on the face/ the face of a visionary', before coming back to his main theme of disappearing and fading into the street parade. There's a lot going on here, not least one of their very best melodies, and it's all done inside three and a half minutes.
The Street Parade