We’re digging into the Far Out Magazine vault to bring you a very special performance from The Clash’s Mick Jones as the guitarist plays his three favourite Clash songs of all time.
Joe Strummer is quite rightly seen as the mouthpiece of The Clash. His brash attitude and sneering demeanour allowed him to prowl the spotlight without ever truly falling victim to it. But while Joe was the guts of the operation Mick Jones, guitarist and songwriter across most of their albums, was most definitely the brains.
Mick Jones was certainly a central figure in the history of The Clash, by all intents and purposes Mick was The Clash—the synapse-sparking bit. Though the spotlight fell on Strummer most of the time, and the lead singer would eventually become the King of the Clash, Jones’ ability to not only craft a riotous punk tune but a catchy pop hook means he is still one of the most highly regarded musicians of the era.
It would be easy to think that this kind of partnership with Strummer and Jones would bear fruit for eternity, and for a while, eternity was looking achievable—but soon enough the tension between the pair grew and grew. Once close friends, their relationship soon became embittered in a creative dispute which quickly turned personal and ended with Strummer asking Mick to leave the group in 1983.
During the bright days of punk though, the pair were inseparable in their inspiration and their output. They created wonderful songs and unstoppable albums which would not only have radios blasting but the audience thinking. This was always the difference between The Clash and almost any other punk group. The Clash were the thinking man’s punk band.
Here, in this clip, Jones is performing his three favourite songs from that time. As part of the opening of the Rock and Roll Library in 2009, Jones gave a few lucky fans, as the venue was so small, a real treat by performing three of his favourites—but which ones would he pick?
Jones picked a trio of his favourites performing them all. First up was ‘Train in Vain’, a song engineer Bill Price once revealed ended up as a secret not-so-hidden track on London Calling: “‘Train in Vain’ was the last song we finished after the artwork went to the printer,” he said. “A couple of Clash websites describe it as a hidden track, but it wasn’t intended to be hidden. The sleeve was already printed before we tacked the song on the end of the master tape.”
Another song Jones selected as his favourite was the wonderful ‘Stay Free’, a song Jones wrote for his longtime friend, Crocker. The friends had been separated for a time while Crocker served out a sentence for robbing a bank and Jones wrote a song for his incarcerated friend. “One evening he came over with an acoustic and played me ‘Stay Free,'” remembered Crocker in a 2008 interview with The Guardian. “Somebody once said to me it’s the most outstanding heterosexual male-on-male love song, and there is a lot of truth in that. It’s a memento of a glorious band, a glorious time and a glorious friendship.”
The final song he selected as his favourite was, of course, the perennial punk anthem ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go?’ Arguably the band’s greatest track Jones once admitted it came out of nothing much at all. “Should I Stay Or Should I Go? wasn’t about anything specific and it wasn’t pre-empting my leaving The Clash. It was just a good rocking song, our attempt at writing a classic.” A successful attempt.
The hair may have departed him, there may be no band backing him, but still, Mick Jones knows how to play and his performance shows that while Strummer may have been the face of The Clash, Mick Jones was often making him smile.
Watch below as Mick Jones performs his three favourite songs from The Clash.
Mick Jones’ 3 favourite songs by The Clash:
- ‘Train In Vain’
- ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go?’
- ‘Stay Free’