A handful of London’s most wanted received an unexpected reward this past weekend when prolific punk personality, The Clash’s Mick Jones performed the band’s hit “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” at a local jail. Jones accompanied songwriter Billy Bragg to West London’s Wormwood Scrubs prison as part of Bragg’s Jail Guitar Doors campaign, providing instruments for the incarcerated. Bragg explained his organization’s mission to The U.K.’s Guardian: “I support punishment. But I also believe in rehabilitation. The question is, do we want to help people not to re-offend and to contribute to society? Getting them involved in music is one way we can try to do that.”
Upon delivering five guitars to the jail’s inmates, Jones reportedly plugged in one of the instruments, nonchalantly asked, “Shall we see if this works?” and began strumming a quieter version of The Clash’s seminal single for an awestruck audience. Bragg followed with a performance of “Redemption Song,” and opened the floor for a touching, open discussion with the prison’s occupants. Jones’ appearance on behalf of Bragg’s foundation is especially poignant as Jail Guitar Doors is operating in the memory of late Clash frontman Joe Strummer. Five years after Strummer’s passing, Bragg explains the mission behind the project: “I was hoping to be involved in more than just another tribute gig. Hearing the Clash as a 19 year old had changed my life, so I guess I was looking for a project that underscored the transformative power of music.”
On the Web:
Billy Bragg’s Jail Guitar Doors Initiative
Talk: Should Bragg’s guitar project stay or should it go?