On October 23, 1982, I saw The Clash open for The Who at the Oakland Coliseum. Not just me of course: Kassia, Tim & Larry also went, among with other folks.
Everything was changing: KFSR was scheduled to go on the air within the week, and I was turning 20 soon after that. By the time the year was over, my life was going to be completely different, I could feel it. It was somehow apropos that the last major concert I’d ever see as a teenager featured the two bands that had dominated my teenage years. A simultaneous summing up and letting go of a major phase of my life.
So even though it was at a stadium, and even though they were supporting records that I overrated in 1982 and stopped listening to in 1983, it didn’t matter. It was The Clash. Opening for The Who. And it was awesome.
Over the years, I got to see things like Robyn Hitchcock open for R.E.M., Sonic Youth open for Neil Young (and R.E.M.) (and Wilco) (and Pavement), and Wilco open up for R.E.M., among many other pairings that don’t immediately come to mind.
But not even The Hold Steady opening for The Replacements last year in Minneapolis was the same.
Meanwhile, back in 1982, The Clash were getting shittons of exposure. On the radio, on late night TV and on the magazines. They were everywhere in a way I could have only imagined in 1979 as “Rock The Casbah” peaked at 8 on the singles chart and Combat Rock peaked at number 7 on the albums chart.
And Mick Jones was all over the radio asking his prescient question.
Especially in the context of Combat Rock, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” is a throwback. The guitar riff is big, loud and stupid, vocals are traded off between him and Joe — singing the backing vocals in Espanol was a great touch — and the whole thing is great fun. In the end, how much fun they were having (which, yeah, also came across in “Rock The Casbah”) was has always put “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” over for me.
Official video for “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”