It’s not everyday that the Galley Gods grant your wish. I’ve been waiting a decade-plus for The Clash’s autobiography, and last week, Performing Arts Editor Anna Katterjohn handed me a flourescent pink blad that reminded me of the color of the band’s flight cases. The Clash (November, Grand Central Publishing) had landed In the Bookroom, a coffee-table oral history that will feature 384 photos (many unseen by hungry fans), tour memorabilia, original interviews with the core four (including late frontman Joe Strummer), and a design by the band’s collaborators.
While I’m rooting for a knockout production, speaking as a fan who has devoured everything print and otherwise, I think it’s going to be hard to say something that hasn’t already been said elsewhere recently. In his Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer (2007), journalist Chris Salewicz articulated the chemistry that made The Clash cook and come apart. Julien Temple’s excellent 2007 docu-bio on Strummer, The Future Is Unwritten, also gets at this with unguarded commentary from the group’s friends and famous fans. See also the 1999 official Clash documentary by Don Letts, Westway to the World, in which the band first owned up to their destrucive egos.
But fans are fans, librarians. It doesn’t matter if they’ve heard a story 58 times—they’re always ready and eager to take another trip back to 1977, or 1981 in the case of the video below. Ladies and germs, I give you The Clash playing "The Magnificient Seven" on The Tom Snyder Show.