Now and then, along comes a book that reminds you of what it feels like, being a fan, and what it means to see your favorite band that way. Gary J. Jucha's latest tome, THE CLASH FAQ: ALL THAT'S LEFT TO KNOW ABOUT THE CLASH CITY ROCKERS (Backbeat Books: 2016) is one of those books.
And it's a massive one, weighing in at 424 pages. However, it's not some overwrought, academic-oriented affair (God knows, we've had enough of 'em, when it comes to the Clash). Nor is it yet another rehash built on the bones of so many chroniclers past. Instead, Jucha takes more of a quirky, compendium-oriented approach, which is how sections on Mick Jones's top 10 vocal features ("Sing, Michael, Sing!") can coexist with extended revisits of Rude Boy, the Clash's lone feature film entry, and the nature of Keith Levene's and Terry Chimes's contributions to the Only Band That Matters.
Yet, at the same time, The Clash FAQ offers a more personal take on the band than most of its chroniclers have offered -- which is why you also get a chapter on Jucha's determined effort to follow them on their 16 Tons UK tour....which he did, from January to June 1980, and brings back to life, based on extensive notes taken from each concert that he witnessed. The last line of this chapter captures that wonderful sense of serendipity that prompted so many fans, including myself, to follow the numerous twists that ran through Clash City:
"I was happy to have seen the Clash play six concerts within nine days, but a little sorry I wouldn't have this opportunity again. How could I have known that, in less than a year, the Clash would be playing seventeen shows in my dirty old home town of New York City?"
Better yet, a strong sense of fun -- a word not commonly associated with the Clash, yet one that needs to be aired, at least periodically, in discussing them -- runs through the enterprise, as well. For example, each chapter title bears a quote taken straight from the band's lyrics (hence, a look at their February '79 New York concerts is called, "Now, There's A Move Into The Future For The USA")...and there's plenty more irreverence where that came from. With those thoughts in mind, I fired off some questions to Gary about his book -- here's what he had to say about it.
"I REALLY WAS ARTISTICALLY FREE"
CHAIRMAN RALPH (CR): First, tell me a little bit about yourself. who (or what) influenced you to become a writer, and how did the punk/postpunk explosion of the late '70s/early/'80s figure into that path? Where did you grow up, and what other bands (besides the Clash, and the Cramps) did you enjoy or champion most?
GARY JUCHA (GJ): The short answer to the first part of your question is that as a kid and teenager and even into my college years, I stuttered. I was drawn to writing so I could speak.
Music figured into that path in the following way: there weren't many books in my household while growing up and one of the first that I really read was THE ROLLING STONE RECORD REVIEW, the magazine's first collection of their record reviews. I saw the paperback in a local pharmacy and I remember that I stole it because I couldn't afford it. I loved the writing; the way they could go on for four double-columned pages about The Beatles' White Album. I'm probably exaggerating but that review seemed to me to go on forever and I loved that. Here were writers who took as rock and roll as seriously as I did. With my five dollar allowance I was also growing my record collection one each week at a time and they had these in depth reviews of Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones albums that I didn't know much about but that I was buying. That's part of what I try to do nowadays: shed a light on important recording artists that young people don't know and can't see. I recently came across a Hendrix quote where he said "each era gets its music" and it's so true. Part of writing about The Clash for me is just spreading the word. People need to listen to The Clash more than ever now that Trump's distorting American values. I was just reading about Trump's invitation to pay a state visit to Great Britain and heard Joe Strummer in my head singing "If Adolf Hitler flew in today, they'd send a limousine anyway."
I grew up in New York City - mostly in Flushing, Queens - and my interest in writing was wildly abetted by the emergence of the Patti Smith Group in 1975. I had seen Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Who, and The Rolling Stones but Patti was like an epiphany. I read an article on her in The New York Times and was intrigued by things she had to say about dead rock stars and French Symbolist poets that I had never heard of and hurried out to buy HORSES at Korvettes for $3.99. I was never the same. What was Patti's quote? Oh yeah, "Three chords merged with the power of the word." I was just beginning college and though I was reading Hugh Selby Jr. and Proust and Celine, it was Patti that really got me to take writing seriously. I saw the PSG 17 times between April 1976 and August 1979 and no two concerts were alike. The best was the benefit concert for St, Mark's Church at CBGBs. The church had been damaged by fire. She played five hours that night. She was so inspirational.
Of course being a New Yorker also meant seeing Lou Reed, one of the fathers of punk, fairly regularly during the 1970s, his peak decade. I'm more into his solo recordings than the Velvet Underground. That succession of albums - from Berlin through Street Hassle - were so literate. He definitely affected my desire to write.
Of course, my intent was not to write rock books. Like everyone else, I wanted to write the great American novel. Unable to know what to write about, however, I followed Truman Capote's advice for the young writer, which was to live and you could write about you experienced later.
So I was going to all these concerts and seeing Talking Heads and The Ramones and The Cramps and on one of the many nights that I was in Bond's watching The Clash, I realized that I could use the Bond's Residency as a backdrop for a fictional work just like Alfred Doblin had used Berlin or John Dos Passos America. That was greatest impact that the punk/postpunk explosion of the late '70s/early /80s had on my path. I would feverishly be taking notes at concerts by The Dead Kennedys, Birthday Party, Husker Du, The Pogues, The Butthole Surfers and many other so that one day I could use those shows as a backdrop for my fictional works.
I've already mentioned a lot of recording artists that I championed back in the day but punkwise, I'm also a big fan of The Fall, Swell Maps, The Minutemen, and X. X to me is the American equivalent of The Clash.
CR: The subtitle of your book, ALL THAT'S LEFT TO KNOW ABOUT THE CLASH CITY ROCKERS., suggests a be-all, end-all type of situation. But it's also a paradox, since we all know, that won't be the end of it - I'm co-writing a book, and I suspect the line of would-be Clash Boswells forms to the right. What rationale went into choosing it (other than that it's part of a series from Backbeat Books)?
GJ: Frankly, it was foisted on me. Like you said, it's part of the Backbeat series and all books in that series have to have a similar subtitle. It was a small price to pay to finally get a book on The Clash in print. So few are from an American's perspective. A better subtitle would be SOME MORE THAT'S LEFT TO KNOW ABOUT THE CLASH CITY ROCKERS. I've always enjoyed what you've written on The Clash and I'm sure you have some very interesting things to add. And then there's Baker Glare aka as Barry Auguste, The Clash's roadie and drum tech from 1976 through 1983. He has a blog that he occasionally posts. He wrote an insightful piece about the filming of HW10, The Clash's home movie. He was very even-handed in what he wrote about everyone. His is the Clash book I really want to read.
CR: What motivated you to write a book about the Clash, beyond your own love of the band? How did you go about deciding what subjects to cover, and how did you go about organizing your book?
GJ: When Joe Strummer unexpectedly died in December 2002, I decided it was finally time to write that fictional book using The Bond's Residency. I was actually at a Patti Smith concert on December 30th, Patti's birthday, and a few days after Joe's death when I made up my mind. It took six years and hell of a lot of research on the concerts and New York City during that May and June 1981 period. I finally finished it in 2008 and was shopping it around when my mother fell, broke her hip and the two years of hell that followed took the wind out of my sails.
Anyway, my friend Vic Marinelli had started a website called Hellbomb in late 2009 and asked me if I wanted to write for it. He actually said that I might get a book deal out of it. I thought that was farfetched but what the hell was I doing anyway? But when I wrote a feature on my trip to England to see The Clash, it caught the eye of Robert Rodriguez, then the FAQ Series Editor. He said it was unlikely that Backbeat would do a book on The Clash, but would I be interested in contributing to the series?
I saw it as a way to get my foot in the door and one day publish the work of fiction I had on my hard drive. I made several suggestions and signed a contract to write about Jimi Hendrix. I got good reviews but the best thing was hearing from a friend of Jimi's who said he would've liked the book. Then Backbeat asked me if I would be interested in writing about The Rolling Stones and I said that I'd really like to write about The Clash. So I signed contracts for both. When The Rolling Stones FAQ got sidetracked, I moved onto The Clash FAQ.
One thing that is great about the editors at Backbeat is that they really allow the writers great freedom in choosing the subject matter. I really was artistically free. Originally I wanted to write 36 chapters and mirror the 36 tracks on Sandinista!, my favorite Clash album, but I ran out of time. It would have been way over the contracted word count anyway.
As for content, I wanted to write mostly about The Clash as I knew them, which is really from June 1978 onward, and topics that I felt got slighted or overlooked in other books on The Clash. I knew I had cover the UK punk period but always felt I'd be on shaky ground because I didn't really experience that period so I tried to get that over as fast as possible. But the concerts I'd attended, the Clash's reggae, Rude Boy: they were either events I felt I could add something to or topics that I felt got slighted in other books on the Clash and Joe Strummer because the biographies are almost always chronological in nature. What I like about FAQ books is that they are almost post-modern in structure. For example, other books touch on The Clash's reggae music but it's usually spread over 200 pages and never explored in concentrated detail. As far as I'm concerned, The Clash were the best British reggae band ever, certainly better than The Police and UB40 - I know this is practically blasphemous, but I think they are even better than Bob Marley and The Wailers - and so I wanted to write a chapter on that. You could do a whole book on the subject if you really wanted to. When you talk about "root rock rebel" The Clash have got the rock and rebel camps covered.
"SEEING THEM IN CONCERT WAS A REVELATION"
CR: You spend a fair chunk of time giving a tip of your hat to Terry Chimes, and Keith Levene, who - in some ways - are the "lost" members of the Clash, in that they don't seem to generate as much ink as the classic foursome lineup of Strummer and company. In your opinion, what did they bring to the band, musically speaking?
GJ: I hate it when band members get written out of history. Levene and Terry Chimes especially had a lasting impact on The Clash. Let's face it, the first 19 recorded songs have Terry Chimes behind the drumkit and for some punkers that's all The Clash songs that do matter. I always feel I'm at a disadvantage writing about drummers. I don't really know the drummer's lingo, but Terry Chimes helped lay the drumming blueprint for punk rock through his energetic, bouncy intro on "Janie Jones" and the knocking drums on "Career Opportunities" and his lasting contribution needs to be acknowledged. I also saw him with The Clash six times in 1982 and I thought he was Topper's equal in ability except on the reggae numbers. He was more muscular for sure.
And getting back to Keith Levene, it is interesting to ponder what PiL's guitarist and musical mastermind could have brought to Clash records. For example, he brought a Britified type of dub to PiL recordings. Imagine that approach being applied to The Clash's dub recordings.
CR: I appreciated your spirited defense of GIVE 'EM ENOUGH ROPE, which - as a casual visit to the If Music Could Talk board will demonstrate - still has its own passionate army of admirers. What makes this album a hidden gem in the Clash's discography, and - more to the point - a reference point for their transition to the wider-screen (figuratively speaking) musical terrain that they explored on LONDON CALLING, and SANDINISTA!? Why should those who dismiss ROPE give it another listen?
GJ: The funny thing about GIVE 'EM ENOUGH ROPE is it was a big hit when it was released. Number 2 in Great Britain. It is only in retrospect that its reputation has been tarnished. GIVE 'EM ENOUGH ROPE is the first Clash album I bought the day it was released. It came out just as they were touring America and seeing them in concert was a revelation. They lived up to all of my great expectations. Here was a band with something important to say that could really move you and make you feel something.
I think all of The Clash's first four albums are perfect. You can make the argument that each is their best. There's something about that era; all of the bands - Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, X - seemed to put out four perfect albums before faltering.
I could give many reasons why GIVE 'EM ENOUGH ROPE is a hidden gem in the Clash's discography, but let's just say that of The Clash albums, this is the closest to what The Clash were like live. When I play GIVE 'EM ENOUGH ROPE (as I'm doing right now), I feel like I am back in The Palladium on February 17, 1979 and The Clash is on stage. It is powerful, it is strident, it is hardcore. Hardcore punk for me starts with Give 'Em Enough Rope. And I was there when the Bad Brains first invaded Manhattan.
I think the biggest impact GIVE 'EM ENOUGH ROPE for their transition to the musical terrain that they explored on later recordings was what Mick Jones learned sitting at the elbows of Sandy Pearlman and Corky Stasiak about record production.
And the willingness to bring session musicians into the studio to flesh out the music. What would LONDON CALLING be without the horns?
CR: Of course, we can't discuss the Clash without recognizing the difference between the live show, versus the studio aspect - a gap that, over time, grew more pronounced (in my humble opinion). It's amazing what keeps turning up - I still have to edit a soundcheck tape from the 9-21-79 NYC show, in which they run through five or six songs instrumentally, with Mickey Gallagher - makes you hear those songs in a whole different way.
GJ: I would love to hear that. I had a friend named Lee Sherman who crossed paths with The Clash in San Francisco and was invited to a rehearsal. Lee used to write for rock magazines. Anyway, Lee told me that during the rehearsal Joe didn't sing so he could save his voice for the concert. I don't know what year that was. I would love to hear that.
One of the unwritten chapters for THE CLASH FAQ was going to be on their bootlegs but I'm not really an expert on Clash bootlegs even if I have over 150. I've probably listened to two-thirds of them. I do know the Bonds recordings inside out. I've taken extensive notes on all 17 shows. I can tell you every cryptic statement Joe made and every ad-lib.
I love bootlegs but the problem I have with Clash bootlegs is that most of them sound inadequate. The Clash were such a ferocious live band that most concert recordings - even soundboard recordings - sound too compressed. Something - perhaps an existential quality of the band - is lacking. It couldn't be taped.
That being said, fans still have to hear the boots for things such as "The Bankrobbing Song" on Sixteen Tracks (mislabeled as "Rudie Can't Fail" on my copy) that is a version of "Bankrobber" before Mikey Dread slowed it down, or Rankin' Roger's guest vocals on "Armagideon Time" on Stinkfoot In Hollywood or the "Police & Thieves/"Blitzkrieg Bop" medley on 1977 recordings. I could go on and on.
You're correct that my favorite bootlegs come from The 16 Tons Tour. There are two I really enjoy. First is CAPITOL RADIO from the Capital Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey. It's the full concert with both encores, not a duff song all night long. It's the rare recording that captures the excitement in the theatre that evening. I love hearing the crowd going crazy after hearing "London Calling" live for the first time. It's got the "Koka Kola"/"I Fought The Law" medley and Mikey Gallagher is on hand adding atmospherics to "Jimmy Jazz," "Wrong ‘em Boyo" and "Armagideon Time" (though I wish he had sat out the punk numbers). Even Mikey Dread can be heard toasting on a few numbers.
Second, is THE CLASH IN HAMBURG when the German punkers keep invading the stage, accusing the band of selling out and disrupting everything and Joe trying to reason and deal with them. It just feels to me to capture how unruly Clash concerts I went to could be. It reminds me of being in Newcastle and someone setting off a smoke bomb and seeing Mick's look of concern. It drove home for me the danger the band members were really in.
Another reason for The Clash fan to acquire bootlegs is that there is no other way to really experience The Clash in concert. I'm sure you'd agree that because of its chronological sequencing of songs as they were released, From Here to Eternity doesn't reflect any Clash concert you were ever at. That's why I didn't write about it in my book. Live at Shea is only the band as an opening act. It's good, but not the real McCoy. I keep wondering why the show Sony recorded at Bond's has never been cleaned up and released.
CR: In hindsight, it might be suggested that 1979-80 marked the Clash's creative peak - from which we got LONDON CALLING, and SANDINISTA! - plus a steady spate of singles, THE COST OF LIVING EP, and a consistent touring schedule (without which, I reckon, many of those ideas would have taken longer to emerge). Do you share this view? Why or why not?
GJ: I certainly share that view. You left out the rerecorded soundtrack for RUDE BOY in March or April of 1979. I think the break-up of The Sex Pistols and demise of UK punk rock allowed them to grow as a musical outfit. There really is this blend of the four members' musical interests that constituted The Clash. The best bands are really those whose members do not share the same musical interests such as The Pixies or Radiohead. With Joe's interest in rockabilly and New Orleans R&B, Mick's love of the golden age of rock and roll and later hip hop, Paul's roots in Jamaican reggae and Topper's jazz background, The Clash's music was cooked in a huge melting pot.
I also think they were still fighting for The Clash as a unit. Success really undermined them. Terry Chimes told me that Joe really had a tough time coping with financial success during the Combat Rock period.
"...I WOULD HAVE GIVEN THEM A SECOND CHANCE"
CR: I enjoyed the section on RUDE BOY, and share your agreement that it's an underrated effort - no matter how post-production overdubbing was required to hold the proceedings together. What makes it worth watching today, and is its place in the Clash's (admittedly) non-musical canon due for a second look?
GJ: That's why I devoted a chapter to it. It needs a second look. Personally, I think it is the second best rock movie ever made. Only A HARD DAY'S NIGHT is better. I wish they'd re-edit it and re-release it. Like I say in my book, start with the scene of The Clash performing "Police & Thieves" and then introduce Ray as the everypunk. And cut out all that stuff about the black pickpockets. It has nothing to do with the movie. Nobody filmed The Clash better Jack Hazan. It's the first place I'd tell anyone interested in experiencing The Clash to go. At least the DVD allows you to just play The Clash scenes.
I also wish they'd officially release the soundtrack. It's great to have the bootleg but I'm sure a better sounding recording could be issued. Both the DVD and the soundtrack should have been part of Sound System.
CR: COMBAT ROCK: again, I share your assessment that it's half a great album. I remember, with amusement, listening to "Sean Flynn" - then me and my best friend shrugged, "Oh, well, guess they're not playing that one on tour!" On the other hand, considering that it got slagged in certain quarters as "too commercial," or "too slick," it contains some of the Clash's wiggiest music, and unlikely collaborations - notably, Allen Ginsberg, on "Ghetto Defendant" - so is it time to rethink its status, or is it simply too dated for words?
GJ: That's a great response to "Sean Flynn". I'm glad that we have the unedited version on SOUND SYSTEM. I used to not like the fade out but given that Errol's son really did vanish the fade-out is aesthetically appropriate. Nobody knows what happened to him.
Listening to COMBAT ROCK again while writing about it for THE CLAH FAQ, I was really surprised how "wiggy" it sounded. It's a wonder it was as successful as it is. Then again, other than "Red Angel Dragnet," all the "wiggy" stuff is on Side Two. Four of the six songs on Side One are among the band's best.
But I don't think you can reassess its status. Side Two of COMBAT ROCK is the only truly bad album side they ever released. (Although admittedly some feel that way about Side 6 of SANDINISTA!.) I think "Overpowered By Funk" and "Death Is A Star" are two of their worst songs ever.
CR: You write powerfully of your disappointment at seeing the remade Clash at Hofstra University. (Incidentally, I'm curious - why do you call them, The Clash, Round Two? They're always referred to in articles as Clash Mark II, or simply, Clash II.)
Given that I'm chronicling this period myself, we're bound to disagree - Hofstra is a show that I happen to like, boot-wise - but made that night seem so disappointing, making you un-inclined to see them anymore? Beyond Mick's and Tops's absence, what else made you fall out of love (so to speak), especially as a long-time fan?
GJ: I call them The Clash, Round Two because that's how Joe Strummer referred to the outfit in an interview. The Clash, Mark II sounds too much to me like Keith Richards talking about The Rolling Stones Mark II with Mick Taylor.
Hofstra was disappointing for several reasons. First, it was overcrowded. And packed with the type of jocks that Kurt Cobain hated that were coming to Nirvana concerts. "Rock the Casbah" was a Top Ten hit in January 1983, which meant that The Clash with Mick had only played a handful of shows in America after they broke big Stateside. You had so many first timers that had to see the band they now loved. I remember I left with a bruised rib. That's how crowded it was.
Second, Mick Jones was obviously gone. The Clash was his band and Joe's foil on stage. It would be like seeing The Butthole Surfers without Paul Leary. The band's dynamics was badly skewed. You needed Mick to counterbalance Joe a bit. On top of that, the two new guitarists could not mask his absence. The band was limping. Mick wasn't the best lead guitarist but he was tuneful and he was always exploring new sounds. I know Joe had a problem with his guitar effects but I really missed them.
I don't know if I would characterize my reaction as falling out of love with The Clash. If they had toured America again, I would have given them a second chance. I would always go see Joe when I could, which is why I did see him with the Latino Rockabilly War and The Pogues and The Mescaleros. If Joe had reshuffled the line-up like Mark E. Smith reshuffles The Fall, I would have kept giving him and The Clash more chances.
CR: CUT THE CRAP, as you correctly acknowledge, is far from an accurate snapshot of how the second Clash lineup sounded - take "Play To Win" and "Fingerpoppin'" off, stick "In The Pouring, Pouring Rain" and "Jericho" in their place, and you're suddenly talking about a stronger record. What else could have been done to improve it (besides the obvious - letting Vince, Nick and Pete play on it)?
GJ: The irony of Joe Strummer is how someone who came across as so forceful and certain in interviews could be so insecure and abdicate control of The Clash, Round Two's album. We all know it is more Bernie Rhodes' record than Joe's and that is still mind-boggling. Bernie was a good manager but he didn't have any musical talent.
What could have been done to improve it is a good question. The short answer would be for Joe to stick to his guns and what he said in interviews while touring with The Clash, Round Two, which is a return to the punk roots. What should have happened is after they toured America in early 1984, they should have gone into the studio and cut the record quickly.
It's my belief that set lists are a good way to gauge the pulse of a band and you can see that after this tour, Joe started having doubts and was wavering and that's why he started playing more of the catalog rather than the new songs. Maybe if he had committed these songs to tape the band could have found a way forward, which might have been to get back on the Combat Rock path, which is where The Mescaleros picked up from.
What Joe really needed was a different producer and music arranger. Joe was incapable of fulfilling that role, which was proven by what Antony Genn and Martin Slattery brought to The Mescaleros' records. And only proves that the dismissal of Mick Jones from the band was so dumb. It's like Joe intentionally sabotaged his outlet for making music, which is what he lived for.
I also think Joe working with Elvis Costello might have worked. Costello produced amazing records for The Specials and The Pogues and was a fan of Joe's. I think they could've created something unique.
CR: Of all the ex-Clashmates' solo ventures, Mick seemed to pick up where he'd left off, at least initially - with the first BAD album - while Joe seemed to struggle for a long time to find his feet. What, in your opinion, accounts for the disconnect - a case of the old firm (Strummer-Jones) breaking up, the parts needing to make up the whole, whatever metaphor you care to use - or are there some lost gems that could have given a glimpse of how the Clash might have moved forward?
GJ: Mick could move forward because he was best equipped to do so: he could write and arrange songs, sing and produce. It's been said that part of Joe and Paul's frustration was Mick's objection to touring but maybe Mick's uncooperative behavior stemmed from his unhappiness over the band's musical direction. More than the others he saw a way forward that merged dance music and rebellion. The firing also left Mick with something to prove.
To this day, I still don't understand how Joe thought The Clash was going to make music without Mick in the ranks. It must be the worst conceived idea in the annals of rock music. Sure I can understand being annoyed with Mick being late for rehearsals or not wanting to tour but wasn't there ever a voice in the back of his mind that asked who was going to be The Clash's musical mastermind if Mick was no longer there?
CR: The Clash's non-reunion will always remain one of those fun pop music parlor games that critics and fans like to play. Could you have seen the Clash existing as the '80s progressed, and do you think a reunion - not a "greatest hits" cash grab tour, but one with an eye toward new material - could really have worked? Why or why not?
GJ: There was too much rancor for them to have survived in the ‘80s. And when Joe was ready, Mick wasn't, and vice versa. The best shot at a successful reunion was with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. It seems likely that The Clash would have played that event, though possibly without Paul Simonon. After that, who knows what might have happened. I think Joe was proud of the music he was making with The Mescaleros but a little annoyed at opening for the likes of U2. I think he might have pushed for a reunion and a new album and a tour in 2003, but we'll never know.
CR: How you do see the Clash's body of work standing up today? I actually now hear "London Calling" being played on oldies (!) stations, even the odd classic rock one, which seems to suggest they've joined the all-timers' inner ring - right up there with the Beatles, and the Stones, in terms of popularity, and perception. Do you feel that's the case, or does that storyline have a way to go yet, in developing?
GJ: Well, I heard that Black Flag is now referred to as being "chubby dad rock" so certainly you have to see The Clash as being viewed by Millennials as part of the inner ring. Still, The Clash's music is timeless and that's why they are still relevant. Joe was very clever with his lyrics in that he rarely sang about the current events of his day. That way, his lyrics are not dated like The Dead Kennedys. Instead he would reference Victor Jara in "Washington Bullets" or Fredrico Lorca in "Spanish Bombs" and use these figures as universal symbols of injustice. Many of the unjust things in the world that The Clash questioned or railed against are, unfortunately, still with us. What is amazing about The Clash to me is how their music connects with people in Asia and South America and Africa. It's not just America and Europe. I think it's the lyrical themes but it's also their wingspan, so to speak. Because all of the records sound different, they can appeal to a wider audience.
CR: And lastly, without letting too much out of the bag - what's next, beyond your coming of age novel during the Bond's era shows? Do you see yourself sticking with music, or possibly branching out into other things?
GJ: The revision of the coming of age novel with the Bond's Residency is done. I'm shopping for an agent. It's rewritten as a standalone but truly is part of a trilogy about the 1980s. If the first book ever gets published then I have the other two volumes fairly well sketched out.
There's talk about THE ROLLING STONES FAQ being revived. It's already written, although I'd like to revisit a chapter or two that I was never satisfied with. That might be out before the end of the year. A German version of THE JIMI HENDRIX FAQ will definitely be published in Germany this year. I'm hoping the same happens with THE CLASH FAQ.
Beyond that, I'd love to contribute to the 33 1/3 Series. There are so many bands not represented yet such as The Butthole Surfers and The Mothers of Invention and Fucked Up that I'd like to write about, but if I was given the opportunity I think I'd write about The Cramps' SONGS THE LORD TAUGHT US for that imprint.
I'm retiring from my day job sooner rather than later and plan on focusing on writing full time. I truly believe The Rolling Stones deserve a tome along the lines of the epic biography that Mark Lewisohn is writing of The Beatles. If Hendrix was right and rock and roll was our era's music, The Rolling Stones was active for 95% of that era. I just feel like someone has got to be more up to that task than me. But it needs to be written.
I also want to write about The Patti Smith Group, not Patti, which is what most books on her are about. The Patti Smith Group was one of the five best rock bands ever and really are sort of forgotten. I have another idea for a book on Hendrix and several on The Clash.
I'm beginning to think that when I stole that book of Rolling Stone reviews, I was motivated by this vague intuition that I was going to write about rock music one day.
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