Amy's Reviews > Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer

Redemption Song by Chris Salewicz
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's review
Mar 22, 2009

liked it
Recommended for: hardcore clash fans only
Read in March, 2009

Finally finished this exhaustive (and often exhausting) bio of Mr. John Mellor/Joe Strummer. Salewicz, who got to know the Clash when he worked as a journalist with the NME, interviews everyone Strummer sang, snogged, or smoked a spliff with -- and that's a lot of people, let me tell you! The man achieved superhuman levels of creativity, philandering, and substance intake. His death at 50 is less surprising than the fact that he actually made it to 50.

I love the Clash and find Strummer fascinating, but maybe not 600 pages' worth of fascinating. And Salewicz inserts himself into the narrative regularly and awkwardly, which is distracting. But strangely enough, the book gets more interesting after the breakup of the Clash, as Strummer wanders in a creative and personal wilderness for nearly two decades, struggling with untreated depression, broken relationships, and regret.

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