#92, "Tony Adams," Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros (1999)

If the world is too much for you, there is no better medicine than Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros. I love the Clash dearly, but JSatM is Joe Strummer stripped of all the bullshit that punk brings with it. Joe was humbled by the dissolution of his life's work and what's left is just Joe being Joe, stroking your hair and not guaranteeing that it'll be ok, but promising to protect you. 


Playing these records is something of a bat signal in my household. If either one of us are having a hard time, we put it on, and the other is instantly aware of the hard time. Not just the hard time, but the desire and inclination to fix the hard time, which is a wholly positive signal. I was feeling kind of crummy about everything this past Saturday afternoon and without saying a word, Pete put on Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros. 


This song is the first track from their first album, which came out in 1999, THIRTEEN YEARS after the Clash officially broke up in 1986. That's a long hiatus, during which he didn't produce much quality creative stuff. What you hear in the Mescaleros' debut is a triumphant return, which suggests to me that Joe doesn't create unless he can confidently tell you something you need to know. <br>

The thing I remember most from the Joe Strummer documentary The Future is Unwritten is the scene where he's trying to get people to come to a Mescaleros show in Atlantic City. The act is painted as fundamentally depressing (it's Atlantic City), as if his past glory is meaningless. Joe goes about it in typical Joe style, where he's handing out flyers in good humor with total self-awareness so that there's a tinge of sadness about it. But he pushes through. 


Wikipedia tells me that "Tony Adams" wasn't the first and only single to be released from Rock Art and the X-Ray Style, but it's such a standout, I feel almost moved to not believe The Source. The rest of the album is just OK. As an album, Global A Go-Go is much stronger.


I was Today Years Old when I learned that Tony Adams the person was an English footballer who struggled with addiction but overcame in heroic fashion (which again, I never really thought to look into until just this minute). I think Joe was also singing about himself after the Clash broke up. He was also singing about the United States in 2020, healing after the death of your heroes, losing a parent or a beloved pet. It fits just about everywhere you need it to.