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  • Jon Houlon

Musings on No 2 Unalike (# 8)


Night Four, No 2 Unalike, Saturday, November 7th @ Fergie's Pub The Clash “Spanish Bombs” and my own “Guantanamo”

Every year my grandparents would drive up from Florida to visit us in Maryland. My grandfather, recognizing my obsession with music, always took me to the record store and let me pick an album out. His treat. In 1980, he dutifully drove me over to Peaches (a record store chain that I recently discovered still exists in New Orleans!). I saw an album with a guy smashing a guitar on the front cover; it also contained a sticker saying something about "explicit" lyrics records (this was pre-Tipper Gore, folks). The Clash's London Calling was for me (and many others) a game changer. I didn't have any idea what Joe Strummer was singing about in Spanish Bombs or in the other many incredible songs on this double lp. But I knew from the SOUND of his voice it was important and I better find out. Joe Strummer was a hero. Period. I know people who, somehow, when they found out he was a diplomat's son thought less of him. I thought more! It's much easier to follow than rebel. Duh! In any case, I could never have written Guantanamo without the influence of Joe Strummer and the Clash. The video for this song was directed by Mark Schreiber (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Donut percussionist Chuck Vag) and Suzanne Penn (who is "affiliated" with Donut keys man Dieter A. ... seen here filling in for the great Matt Cappy on trumpet). Schreiber also edited the video. We cut it in Ocean City, NJ. The day started on an ominous note when the beach patrol drove by the five of us dressed up in prison jumpsuits. No questions asked. Later in the day, a group of teeny boppers watched us lip-sync out on the beach. They asked if the video would be on MTV and I, of course, responded affirmatively. At some point, you could see that they realized that we were a bunch of old losers who were definitely NOT going to be on MTV or anywhere else for that matter. They quickly shuffled along down the shore. Postscript: A few years later I was contacted by National Geographic for a documentary they were doing on Guantanamo. They wanted to use the song in the "public reaction" segment of the program. Unfortunately, that segment was edited out. Close but no cigar, 'Nuts! This one's for Joe Strummer. "He who fucks nuns later joins the church."

- Jon Houlon


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