Nearly a year after he died in his home in England, Joe Strummer left his mark on New York on Sunday at a video shoot for the second single from his posthumous LP, Streetcore.
A mural in memory of the late Clash singer/guitarist remains on the wall outside the East Village bar Niagara, where the clip for “Redemption Song,” by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros, was shot. The clip, directed by Josh Cheuse, centers on the making of the spray-painted memorial, and the video features cameos by Rancid and many of Strummer’s New York-based friends, including actors Matt Dillon, Cinque Lee (Spike’s brother) and Cara Seymour (Gangs of New York’s Hell-Cat Maggie), filmmakers Jim Jarmusch and Sara Driver, and singer/songwriter Jesse Malin, who owns the bar and volunteered its wall.
The video opens with classic images of New York. The Empire State Building and Chrysler Building blend with shots of speeding taxis and siren-blaring firetrucks barreling down the avenues to capture the feeling of the Englishman’s home away from home. A few guys approach the blank brick wall with cans of spray paint and the idea to pay homage to the punk pioneer. As they start painting, a mixed crowd develops to observe the work-in-progress still too unfinished to be identified.
Archived footage of Strummer’s past — from the Clash’s 1982 show at Shea Stadium to him mingling with a group of break-dancers years later — stems from a sketchbook one of the artists consults for reference. Never-before-seen performance footage of the Mescaleros at London’s Brixton Academy will also be used.
As the details of the mural come into view, it’s clear the image is of Strummer, classic-looking with a slicked back 1950s hairstyle and dark shades. Below a red, gold and green flag emblazoned with the Lion of Judah, a symbol of power and mercy in the Rastafarian religion, are the words “Joe Strummer 1952-2002.” The clip ends with passersby stopping to light candles and leave tokens at the base of the mural.
Of the known actors, most of whom are seen as members of the crowd, Lee, Driver, and actor Steve Buscemi appeared with Strummer in Jarmusch’s 1989 film, Mystery Train.
The video for “Redemption Song” is expected to surface later this month. The song follows “Coma Girl” as the next single from Streetcore, Strummer’s third album with the Mescaleros, which was released October 21.
Strummer died last December of a heart attack. He was 50 (see Autopsy Finds Joe Strummer Died Of Cardiac Arrest” ).