"Let's Rock Again" and Again and Again

Joe Strummer strolling along the beach.

For Joe Strummer fans, you may consider Let's Rock Again a proper way to say goodbye. The documentary was originally intended by Joe Strummer and long time friend director Dick Rude, to be another form of publicity for Strummer's new band The Mescaleros. This intention changed after his unexpected death in December 2002 before the actual completion of the documentary. When the director was asked if he at all resented this new appeal, he simply stated, "Definitely the intent changed, it was no longer about promoting this band but more so about closure. His death definitely made the film more appealing for attracting an audience but I would trade it all in a hot second to have him back."


On tour with The Mescaleros.

There is no doubt that Dick Rude and fans alike wouldn't give anything to have Joe Strummer's throaty vibrating voice back to fill their ears. The film captured his undying love for creating music with as much an open untainted mind as possible.  He went from "hero to zero" and instead of being resentful of the brutality of the music business he found it enriching to the soul. He explained time and time again in the film the importance of staying grounded in order to create something more pure and as a result inevitably creating a piece of music that affects its listeners. You could see the affect it had on the audience simply through the incredible live footage of Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros. Audience members' bodies moved as they watched Strummer at his best.

Rude captured Strummer's great sense of humor especially when he referred to himself as a "Hack". He explained this self conclusion in three steps, one because he is a hack. Second, because if he allowed himself to accept and be engulfed with praise and ego then his work and mind would become tainted; and thirdly because he is just a hack.

Lovers of Joe Strummer would beg to differ with his hack references but at the same time can be thankful for his mindset.  An egotistical artist would never have the gratitude Strummer had for his fans.  Much of the footage showed Strummer as an individual who wouldn't go home until each fan left with his signature and a chance to tell him their story. "Everyone has a story," he said and he made sure to listen to all of them.

Strummer locked outside of New Jersey radio station.

Now imagine a story where a legendary rocker hands out hand written flyers and is locked out of a radio station. It seems contradictory but the story is true and Strummer is the main character. Rude had a great amount of footage of Strummer taking publicity into his own hands to get his music heard. Fans got anxiety while watching individuals unknowingly pass by their hero. The audience expressed their concern to the director who eagerly pointed out that celebrity is all a matter of perspective and that for him it wasn't unusual for Strummer to not be accosted while walking down the street. That the audience members make Strummer "their world" but if they were to pass by "Neil Diamond, considered to others a rock legend, they wouldn't have a clue."

One of the most beautiful parts of the documentary is when Rude set up Strummer sitting cross legged outside one of his venues with some of his youngest fans. Either the kids didn't realize the magnitude of the individual that was sitting next to them or Strummer had the ability to make people feel like they were old friends. These kids were given the opportunity to ask Strummer questions like what was his favorite band and what did he hope that people got from his music? Strummer humorously was an open book.

Strummer discussing the social climate.

The film was an exquisite documentary that everyone must see. The man had experienced so much without even realizing at the time his affect on the world.  "I came of age in 68' we were all hippies.  I didn't know that what I was doing was so profound." The awareness came twenty years after the fact.  But Strummer refused to dwell on history. "Live in the now, the past can be sticky." This film provides closure for a musical legend and a social revolutionary hero. Strummer now may be a part of the past but despite his requests we miss him so much that we have to live in it.

If you would like to find out more information about "Let's Rock Again" you can visit the website: www.dickrude.biz

 

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