To celebrate the upcoming publication of my short story, “The Record Collector,” I’m finally doing the “post an influential album each day for 10 days” thing that several friends challenged me to do.
I bought the first Clash record on my 16th birthday, the same day I read The Catcher in the Rye and smoked my first cigarette. That’s not a fact, but it’s true. Hearing their cover of The Bobby Fuller Four’s “I Fought the Law” blasting out of my friend Danny’s car speakers changed my life and listening habits. I spent less time reading comic books and science-fiction novels and more time practicing guitar and writing “songs.”
Discerning fans (or just people who were actually there in London 1976-77) argue that the British version of this is more authentic (the US edition added later singles) and more of-the-moment. Fine. But I’d trade “Cheat,” “Deny,” and “Protex Blue”—all three of ‘em—for one “(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais.” So would most of the purists, in their heart of hearts, I suspect.
The Clash does play a part in “The Record Collector.” I couldn’t quote their lyrics (copyright and all) but I found what I think is a pretty good workaround for Metaphorosis. I hope Joe Strummer would approve.
NOTE: Spotify hosted a multi-episode podcast on the Clash, called “Stay Free,” hosted by Chuck D of Public Enemy. It is essential listening for anyone who likes (or even hates) the band.
The first time I slam danced was at our 8th grade dance, when somebody put on this version of “I Fought the Law” and my friends and I went wild. I felt like I’d arrived. Good times!