Joe Strummer Was Disappointed After The Clash’s Breakup, His Widow Says
The late Clash frontman Joe Strummer‘s widow Lucinda Tait recently spoke to Heavy Consequence and explained why Strummer was disillusioned in the period following the Clash’s split.
After the negative reviews of the 1985 album ‘Cut the Crap,’ Strummer decided to disband the Clash. The musician then began a solo music career and worked on film soundtracks before forming the Mescaleros in 1999. He met Lucinda Tait during this period, with whom he was married from 1995 until his passing in 2002.
In a recent interview with Heavy Consequence, Strummer’s widow Lucinda Tait spoke about the musician’s life after the Clash’s disbandment. She stated that this period was Strummer’s ‘wilderness years‘ because he didn’t release any record. Tait claimed that when the musician released his 1989’s ‘Earthquake Weather,’ he didn’t get enough support from the record label.
Tait then argued this situation left Strummer quite disappointed. In the following period, Strummer appeared in movies and scored music for them. As Tait said, all Strummer did was write songs during that time. Moreover, she also argued that Strummer used everything from napkins to a matchbook to produce new pieces.
According to Strummer’s widow, he would write some lines on a piece of paper and use them in later periods. In addition, she highlighted that the late vocalist didn’t sit and write lyrics in a vocal booth while his band played. Instead, he had lyrics already written down in the back of his mind, and the songs he came up with weren’t random.
In the interview, Heavy Consequence asked Lucinda Tait the following:
“As you just mentioned, after the Clash and before the Mescaleros, Joe remained out of the limelight, other than a few projects here and there. And that’s the time you met and eventually married him. Can you describe what his life was during that time?”
As a response, Lucinda Tait said:
“Well, they call it the ‘wilderness years’ because he wasn’t physically putting out a record. And I think what happened was that he put out his 1989 solo album ‘Earthquake Weather.’ And he felt at the time that he didn’t get much support from the record company. He didn’t do any tour support. And I think he was very disappointed by that. So, he spent a lot of time in America.
He appeared in movies, was in ‘Walker,’ and scored incredible music for the film. I didn’t think the film was that great, but the music is really quite extraordinary. And a few other movies: ‘Permanent Record,’ ‘Sid & Nancy.’ He wasn’t twiddling his thumbs. But what he was doing, which has come to light through the archive, was that he was writing, writing, writing.”
Tait then continued:
“What’s been interesting is that a lot of the bits of paper and everything that he wrote on, whether it was a kitchen roll, a matchbook, or a napkin from the restaurant, a lot of these lines that were just scribbled on had then made it into songs at a later date.
What was interesting going through the archive was seeing the process — that he could scribble something down in 1990 on a piece of paper and put it away, and then in 1996, when he’s writing a song, you see that verse come alive in that song.”
She also said the following about Strummer’s songwriting process:
“So, his writing process, which I always thought was Joe sitting in the vocal booth with a sharpie pen and a pad of paper as he bashed the lyrics out as the band threw down chords and melodies and things while he was writing, was not true.
But it seems he had many of those lyrics already written down and festering, if you like, in the back of his mind for many years. And that’s really what the archive showed us, was that it was very, very extensive, and it wasn’t as random as we first thought. You could follow trails.”
A box set titled ‘Joe Strummer 002: The Mescaleros Years‘ was recently released on September 16. It features Strummer’s work with his band the Mescaleros, a new compilation of 15 B-Sides, and his rare music efforts. The box set is available as a 4-CD set with a 72-page book or a 7-LP set with a 32-page book, giving fans a chance to see Strummer’s song archive.