Song Of The Day 1/31/2017: The Clash – “Lost in the Supermarket”


You Pick The Artist - The Final Picking -- Patrick RichardsFink gave me the Clash. Thinking about how we no longer have anyone like the Clash these days depresses me. I feel like we're walking around unarmed. It also reminds me of this line from The Hold Steady's "Constructive Summer": "Raise a toast to St. Joe Strummer/I think he might've been our only decent teacher/Getting older makes it harder to remember we are our only saviors/We're gonna build something this summer."

As I'll explain shortly, I came around relatively late to punk because of a series of misinformation campaigns orchestrated by a secretive cabal on the East Coast. I don't think I bought London Calling until at least three or four years after it was released. When I did finally hear it I was surprised that anyone was calling it "punk" (I didn't hear the first two US Clash albums until well after I had LC). Of course I'd heard "Train in Vain" on the radio and didn't think it was punk at all, but I must have figured it was a one-off. London Calling went on to become one of my five favorite albums of all time, which it still is. I was later able to reconcile its sound with the abstract idea of punk rock, rather than continue to baffle myself over its not sounding like what we'd known as punk rock up to that moment. And Sandinista! pretty much demolished any remaining boundaries between the various sounds they played and the punk rock aesthetic. It wasn't long after that I was finally able to construct a bulleted list of all the reasons Neil Sedaka was punk rock. Well... I still haven't worked that one out yet, but it's on my bucket list. It's a big bucket.

There's no song on LC that I elevate over the others, but "Lost in the Supermarket" covered a lot of themes I revisited time and time again in one way or another: mass consumerism, the allure of forfeiting our free will, anonymity and its resultant loneliness, blank suburbia, beer. It's one of the saddest uptempo songs I've ever heard. (Here's another.) Thanks Patrick!

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