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Granada and Strummer

As a resident of Granada and music fan, I really needed to make this publication.

Granada is a different city, in many ways, from the rest of the cities of Andalusia and Spain. It has a special atmosphere, which causes attraction since the first moment, fantastic places and a rich history. Surely this was what attracted the singer of The Clash to the city. If ever you come to Granada, there is a place that you must visit: the Joe Strummer square. It is not the biggest or the prettiest, but it is certainly the most beloved. One would think that given the name of that place no other reason than to have some international publicity. Wrong. Joe Strummer was the musical father of Granada, marking the city with his presence forever.

In 1984 the band was having a difficult situation, so Strummer decided to take a few months off, away from all the hype it generated. In the winter of that year it was rumored that the leader of The Clash was in town looking for the grave of Lorca. It is no secret that he was a great admirer of the poet, as evidenced by the song “Spanish Bombs”. After a fruitless search and do a bit of sightseeing, an album entitled “Cementerio de Automóviles”(automobile graveyard) of a newly formed local band called 091 came to his hands. The album pleased Strummer and the band decided to seek to meet them.

Strummer asked some people where he could find them, until he finally find out that they used to frequent a pub called el Silbido(the Whistle). He went there and drank trying to go unnoticed until someone from the band appeared. Finally the bar owner, who recognized Strummer, called Jose Antonio Garcia, the lead singer of the band. There they forged their friendship talking about Corazón Rebelde, a French group that had a sound much like The Clash. At the end of the night, as Jose Antonio accompanied him to his pension, Joe promised to produce their next album.

However, Joe disappeared and it was not until several months later, when they were already recording “Más de 100 Lobos” (More than 100 Wolves) that they would again see him. Joe returned to stay a long time and help with the recording process, and brought even his wife.

There are many stories of those months.

They say that one day, walking down the street; they found a wanderer who was a great accordionist. Strummer came to congratulate him. The tramp replied to touch Tchaikovsky was not difficult; difficult were playing songs of The Ramones or The Clash with the accordion. Joe Strummer told him that he was the singer of The Clash and, of course, accordionist did not believe him. There are witnesses who say that the two protagonists of this situation ended that afternoon, playing "Jimmy Jazz” together at a bar.

There also happened a few anecdotes with 091. “I remember when we returned from Madrid in a second-hand Dodge he had bought. The Civil Guard (Spanish police) stopped us for speeding,” said Jose Ignacio Lapido. “Joe’s wife was pregnant with their second daughter and Joe had no driver’s license. I played the role of a translator. Joe immediately invented the excuse that he was going very fast because his wife was about to give birth. In the end, nothing happened to us. ”

Antonio Arias, bassist of 091, suffered pleurisy at that time that forced him to spend several months in bed. “As Joe knew of my passion for learning to play the piano, and he was penniless in Granada, one day came to my house with a keyboard drawn on a piece of carboard. That was how I learned to play the piano”. For the singer, Jose Antonio Garcia, meet Joe was an almost mystical experience. He had come a few years earlier to Madrid to see a concert of The Clash and was three days without talking about what they had left bewildered British musicians. Years later would that band singer sleeping in his house for weeks. Garcia was the one who suggested the name of the second daughter of Joe Strummer, Lolita, the child who was conceived in Granada.

Joe finally left Granada with the promise to return, something that he often did during the following years, even to celebrate his 40th birthday here.

His admiration for Lorca not stopped, which again would lead him to want to find the body of the poet: “He picked me up in a huge car he had bought and we went to Viznar. There he wanted us to buy shovels to dig up the body of Federico Garcia Lorca, but he first wanted to see the place where we realized that this was impossible. Once there and after the deep emotion he felt at the sight made me promise we would write a song together and that one day we would go there all friends and we would play” says Arias, who still has recorded one of the phrases that Strummer whispered close the burial place of Lorca: "I can still hear the cry of the dead.”

In fact, that song would be called Lorca, although Strummer, who died in 2002 at age 50, never completed the lyrics. Nor did another composition promised to do with Jesus Arias: a song that spoke of the bombing of all cities called Granada by American soldiers. A little revenge for using Rock The Casbah motto in the Iraq war, according to Arias confessed: “In April 2002 I show him the music and he promised that we would record that together: Trance Blues. But he only came to do a verse: I am a soldier at the top of the world ”.

091 achieved great success nationally. Arias was separated from the band a few years after starting his own project “Lagartija Nick”. These two bands, imbued with the spirit of The Clash, were the pioneers of the great music scene there today in the city.

So when the 10th anniversary of Joe’s death, thousands of people signed so that to make him his name to a square.

A cloudy sky did not stop a mass of supporters from approaching the tribute that gave his friends and musicians: the singer and bassist of 091, Jose Antonio Garcia and Antonio Arias; the battery that came with Strummer in his first band The 101ers, Richard Dudanski; Paul Cook of The Mescaleros; And the banjo in The Pogues, Jen Finer. They sang ‘I Fought The Law’, 'Junco Partner’, 'The Sound of sinners’,’ London Calling 'or’ Spanish Bombs “that thrilled the audience. He was also remembered with the subjects 'Que fue del siglo XX’ or 'La vida que mala es’ of 091.

Granada will always be grateful to the unconditional love of the great Joe Strummer.

-The Man of Water


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