Benny Jay: Strummer

April 4th, 2019

Years ago, I wandered into the office of a publicist named Eric, looking for info about property taxes.

At the time, Eric labored for the Cook County Assessor. So reporters turned to him when they had questions about property taxes. Which was pretty funny since Eric cared as much about property taxes as I cared about, oh, microbiology.

Hey, man, a gig’s a gig.

Anyway, I was going on and on–as I’m apt to do–about the connections between TIFs and the Homeowners Exemption, when Eric changed the subject. No doubt to keep from dozing off.

“Do you like Joe Strummer?” he asked.

“Drummer?”

“No, Strummer–from The Clash.”

“Never heard of him.”

“You never heard of Joe Strummer? He’s a fuckin’ genius!”

There and then Eric started quoting iconic lines by Joe Strummer, including this one…

“He who fucks nuns will later join the church.”

Now, that grabbed my attention. You don’t generally get the words “fuck” and “nuns” in the same lyric.

Soon Eric was singing the full verse.

‘N’ every gimmick hungry yob digging gold from rock ‘n’ roll
Grabs the mike to tell us he’ll die before he’s sold
But I believe in this and it’s been tested by research
He who fucks nuns will later join the church…

JoeStrummermural

We’ve come a long way from Joe Strummer…

I’m not sure what impressed me the most: the lyric or Eric’s ability to quote it by heart.

“It’s from Death or Glory,” he said.

Silence.

“From London Calling…”

More silence.

“You’ve heard of London Calling–right?”

I shrugged.

“Dude, you gotta be kidding me–you never heard of London Calling?”

“I kinda spent the `70s listening to pop music on a transistor radio I kept by my bed,” I confessed.

“What kind of `70s music do you like?” he asked.

“Any list must include the Bee Gees,” I said.

“You’re kidding, right?” he said.

Saturday Night Fever is one of the greatest pop records–ever!”

“Oh, shit, next you’ll be telling me you like the Carpenters.”

“How did you know?”

“I was making a joke.”

“No list of `70s songs is complete without Superstar.”

“Dude, you can’t admit this shit–it’s embarrassing.”

“Why? Karen Carpenter is a great singer.”

“Don’t tell me you like Barry Manilow.”

“Of course. `She sits there so refined, and drinks her self half-blind’. Great lyric!”

And so on…

We’ve been having one variation or another of that debate ever since. Probably be having it in our dotage at the Happy Trails Nursing Home. It sure beats talking about property taxes.

Anyway, imagine my surprise when I recently saw Eric making a Facebook “playlist of seventies songs I’m embarrassed to say I like.”

Before it was over, Eric had confessed to liking Baby Come Back, Do Ya Think I’m Sexy and Fly, Robin, Fly.

And he’s bitching about Barry Manilow?

Welcome to the church, Eric. I had a feeling you were

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