Our latest exclusive Q+A is with Jimmy Cliff on the rocksteady legend’s recent collaboration with Rancid’s Tim Armstrong, history with The Clash (more on that below), and iconic role in 1972’s The Harder They Come. Tomorrow, get ready for PJ Harvey.
GQ: How did you hook with Strummer in the first place?
Jimmy Cliff: I and the Clash used to cross each other’s path when we did concerts in Europe. We never had time to like, stop and talk, but we’d just say, “Hey Joe!” “Hey, Jimmy. What’s up, what’s going on?” “All right. See you.” It was always more or less like that. Like a respectful artistic nod to each other, you know. So when he came into the studio while I was doing the Black Magic album—it had two titles, Fantastic Plastic and Black Magic—I thought he just came in to greet me. We sat down talking a little about music, and he came out with these lyrics and said, I hear you singing these. He showed them to the producer who said, Well how does the melody go? And he said, I don’t have any melody! I just have these lyrics and I hear Jimmy singing them. So we three of us sat down and put the melody together. It was really a great track.