The Chattanooga-based singer-songwriter pays homage to the late Clash frontman on new single
It’s unacceptable to believe that Joe Strummer will be gone from this mortal coil for 20 years this coming December 22nd.
Yet for as long as his physical being has been absent from our day-to-day, the spirit of the legendary Clash frontman continues to thrive in the material of those who remain inspired by his artistry.
One such artist is Douglas Bales, a musician and writer from Chattanooga, Tennessee who will be releasing a two-song CD in memory of Mr. Strummer this Friday.
“I saw The Clash on T.V. when I was about 13 years old and had my mind blown,” he explains. “Their look, their sound, their lyrics. Everything about it shifted my perspective on music and life in general. I went to the record shop the next day and bought their first album and in consecutive weeks bought more and more of their records. As I listened to the lyrics, I realized that this guy, Joe Strummer, was one of the best songwriters I had ever heard, and I have been a fan ever since.”
“Saint Joe” is a tribute to Strummer and his last band The Mescaleros and it shows the moment you hear its initial guitar progression. Yet as urgent and fresh the song and its Lou Reed-esque counterpart “Sing This Song” may seem, “Saint Joe” was written before COVID.
“‘Saint Joe’ had been stewing around in my brain for a couple of years and on Christmas day in 2018 I sat down in my apartment and penned the lyrics,” Bales admits. “A few months later I figured out the chord progression and melody and felt really good about it and was ready to record it, then the whole COVID thing hit so I had to wait for a while.”
By 2021, however, he was able to pick up where he left off in terms of the direction he was aiming to take these songs, augmented by the artist’s diehard respect for Joe.
“I was able to assemble some of my musician and recording friends in the basement of a church in Chattanooga, TN,” he told Rock & Roll Globe. “We recorded ‘Saint Joe’ and ‘Sing This Song’ in a couple of days. To me, ‘Saint Joe’ captures a lot of the feelings I have towards Strummer. He’s a hero, a groundbreaker and a true genius in my perspective. Joe Strummer will always stand strong in the eyes of anyone who pays attention.”
According to Bales, “Sing This Song” was completed in similar fashion.
“That one came to me early one morning after being up all night,” he explains. “It was one of those that wrote itself and encompasses my feelings about life as a musician. After I had it worked out I realized that it sort of mirrored Strummer’s ethos. Some of us have to play music to live, so it seemed like a good match for the ‘Saint Joe ’single.”
Listen to both “Saint Joe” and “Sing This Song” below, and pre-order the CD via BandCamp.