Should he stay or should he go?
As August became September in 1983, The Clash opted for the latter as Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon sacked Mick Jones not long after laying out the situation to the world lyrically in the band’s hit “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?”. The others felt he had ‘drifted apart’ from the original idea of the group.
But over the years many have pondered the question: What might have happened had he stayed?
Would the group soldier on, perhaps suffering the same sad fate as many once-legendary bands who simply fade into obscurity? Or, was this sudden dissolving of the powerful 1-2 punch of Strummer and Jones precisely what was needed to unambiguously cement the band’s legacy and place in history?
There’s no time or space here, nor is it the point of this post, to delve into the nuts and bolts of that conundrum. Entire books have been written about it (with Marcus Gray‘s “The Last Gang In Town” being perhaps the best).
In marking the 30-year anniversary of their split, we can at least be thankful for their numerous accomplishments that preceded their posing of that question about staying or going that became a self-fulfilling prophecy: “Police On My Back”, “Lost In The Supermarket”, “Train In Vain” and “Somebody Got Murdered” are just a few of the many wonderful Clash songs penned and/or sung by Mick, but this often overlooked gem from the London Calling LP happens to be my favorite.