Unlike Warren Zevon, whose story I chronicled yesterday, Joe Strummer didn’t see his death coming. On December 22, 2002, he died suddenly from an undiagnosed congenital heart defect. Strummer had been working on a new album at the time and members of the band worked to release material from these recording sessions, even though they included first takes of vocal performances and perhaps songs not intended to be on the album. You would probably never know this from giving a listen to Streetcore, however. It’s a strong album that got excellent critical response and in no way feels like an incomplete work.
Wrapping up the album – and Strummer’s career – is “Silver and Gold,” a cover of an old Bobby Charles song, “Before I Grow Too Old.” Like Zevon’s final albums, it’s a song that contemplates mortality, acknowledging that there’s a limited time that we have to do the things we want to do. Strummer didn’t realize how apt this would be for him personally, but when he rasps “okay, that’s a take!” to close out the album, it somehow feels like he’s putting a finishing touch on a remarkable career.