Martin Scorsese has always been extremely transparent about his incredible passion for music which has inevitably become an integral part of his cinema. Over the course of his illustrious career, Scorsese has produced several masterpieces that have redefined American filmmaking forever in addition to multiple projects that have focused on the world of music.
Gems such as The Last Waltz and No Direction Home are now cited as some of the most influential music documentaries ever made, mostly because Scorsese’s love for music is evident in each of those works. Latest reports have also confirmed that Scorsese is currently planning a Grateful Dead biopic which will star Jonah Hill as Jerry Garcia.
Even in his feature films, Scorsese’s perfect injection of music often elevates the cinematic experience and creates moments of pure magic. These iconic scenes have been immortalised in popular culture, ranging from the fantastic use of ‘Jump Into the Fire’ in Goodfellas to one of Scorsese’s personal favourites – ‘Gimme Shelter’ by The Rolling Stones – in multiple films.
However, there is one particular punk rock song that Scorsese loves so much that he described it as the “greatest British rock and roll song” of all time. That song was none other than ‘Janie Jones’ by one of Scorsese’s favourite punk rock bands – the Clash – from their self-titled debut album which came out in 1977 and went on to climb as high as number 12 on the UK charts.
The album was highly praised by critics in the UK as well as the US, with many commentators noting that the Clash had managed to construct an essential social document that reflected the banality of urban existence in the country. Even after all these years, the album is still regularly named by critics as one of the greatest punk protests in the history of music.
Joe Strummer wrote the song in order to pay a tribute to the titular figure who became infamous in the ’70s for organising sex parties in her house. After getting out of prison in 1977, Jones became celebrated as a punk icon due to the impact of the Clash’s fantastic album. When asked about what she thought of the song, Jones claimed that Strummer “gave me back my dignity as an artist”.
Scorsese used ‘Janie Jones’ in his lesser-known 1999 film Bringing Out the Dead which starred Nicolas Cage as a depressed paramedic in New York City. The director had been a fan of the band for a long time and even took them out along with Robert De Niro on multiple occasions, in addition to casting them in a cameo for his brilliant masterpiece The King of Comedy.