There are very few people that I really consider to be musical heroes … or at least, who are heroes to me.

The few that I do consider to be heroes were not necessarily life-altering for me, but definitely opened my eyes to different ideas.

Of course, one of my biggest musical heroes is Johnny Cash. This was a man that could take just about any song and simply by performing it in his own style made it his own; in fact, in many cases more so his song than the original artist’s. The classic example of this is Johnny Cash’s cover version of Nine Inch Nails “Hurt”.

Other people are heroes for their effect on generations of people; Bob Dylan and John Lennon are the two most prominent examples of this I think, although Johnny Cash definitely fits here as well.

But for me, another one of my great heroes was the late, great Joe Strummer, formerly of the Clash and who spent his latter years fronting the Mescaleros.

The Clash, which he led in the late 1970s through the early 1980s was something of an anomaly in British punk rock circles, as they were decidedly anti-fascist, anti-violence, anti-racist, pro-creative, and anti-ignorance … whereas other “leaders” (i.e., the Sex Pistols) consistently proclaimed that there was “no future”. At a time when nihilism reigned, the music of the The Clash opened doors and opened minds for anyone receptive enough to listen.

Strummer’s later work with the Mescaleros continued this tradition; perhaps without the ferocity associated with some of The Clash’s early works, but the ideology was still there nonetheless, exploring the impact of globalization and ethic/racial tolerance.

Tonight I watched Dick Rude’s documentary Let’s Rock Again, which chronicled the Mescaleros’ 2001/2002 tour in support of their second album Global a Go-Go. Listening to and watching some of the last interviews Strummer gave before he died helped bring it home.

Really, if you’ve never given Strummer’s later works a listen, go out and do so now. You won’t be disappointed, and it just might change your life, even if only a little.

JOE STRUMMER & THE MESCALEROS – JOHNNY APPLESEED

Lord, there goes Johnny Appleseed
He might pass by in the hour of need
There’s a lot of souls
Ain’t drinking from no well locked in a factory

Hey – look there goes
Hey – look there goes
If you’re after getting the honey – hey
Then you don’t go killing all the bees

Lord, there goes Martin Luther King
Notice how the door closes when the chimes of freedom ring
I hear what you’re saying, I hear what he’s saying
Is what was true then now no longer so?

Hey – I hear what you’re saying
Hey – I hear what he’s saying
If you’re after getting the honey – hey
Then you don’t go killing all the bees

What the people are saying
And we know every road – go, go
What the people are saying
There ain’t no berries on the trees

Let the summertime sun
Fall on the apple – fall on the apple

Lord, there goes a Buick forty-nine
Black sheep of the angels riding, riding down the line
We think there is a soul, we don’t know
That soul is hard to find

Hey – down along the road
Hey – down along the road
If you’re after getting the honey
Then you don’t go killing all the bees

Hey – it’s what the people are saying
It’s what the people are saying
Hey – there ain’t no berries on the trees
Hey – that’s what the people are saying, no berries on the trees
You’re checking out the honey, baby
You had to go killin’ all the bees