It speaks to the awesome diversity of my life that I get to have articles on the 30th anniversary of the U.S. release of the The Clash’s landmark “London Calling” album and an interview with Nick Jonas in the Post on the same day. (And, to carry that one step further, I also have an interview today with Broadway legend Elaine Stritch.)
If I were pressured at gunpoint to come up with two more completely different musical acts in sound, craftsmanship, approach and appeal, it would be a close to impossible task. The mystic creative alchemy that led to “London Calling” was a reaction to the explosion of musical norms at the hands of the Sex Pistols, and the deepening poverty faced by British youth. The Clash elevated punk by defying people’s expectations of it, including the punks themselves. In expressing both the political and the personal through styles from rockabilly to reggae to clear-eyed pop, The Clash not only brought the genre one more step toward defiance of the mainstream (Don Letts, who directed the “London Calling” video and who I interviewed for the piece, passed along a statement he heard long ago declaring that “The Sex Pistols would make you wanna smash your head against the wall, the Clash would give you a reason), but also poked a sharp stick in the eye of the “punk police,” those rebellious style mavens who relished punk for the mohawks and safety pins and a touch of the ultra violence, but missed the message about expression and individuality.
And Nick Jonas? Well, would you respect him more if I told you that one of his greatest influences was Elvis Costello? Named his band and his dog after the man and his work. Gotta count for something, right?