|Shane & Van.|
Tonight, I feel that I should say a few words about the passing of Shane MacGowan who died today. Although I knew he had been ill for a long time it was still a shock to hear that he has gone. It has been a sad year for Irish music with Shane’s close friend and collaborator Sinead O’Connor also dying this year. They were both rebels against the authority and hypocrisy of the establishment, as well as being brilliant singer-songwriters. On the news and on social media people have seemed to focus on Shane’s ‘notoriety’, alcoholism, and lifestyle. I would rather he was remembered for being one of the greatest songwriters of his generation which is how his friend Nick Cave described him. Shane wrote the best Christmas song of all time in my opinion which is Fairy Tale Of New York (See video below).
|Shane & Bruce.|
It is totally different to any other Christmas song because it tells the truth about what Christmas is really like for many people, poverty, loneliness and broken relationships. Many people only know Shane from that song, but he has left a legacy of dozens of great songs. His fans included the likes of Johnny Depp, Christy Moore and Bruce Springsteen. Van Morrison invited Shane to sing with him at the Brit Awards in 1994. He singlehandedly created a new genre of music by combining punk rock with Irish folk music, added poetic meaningful lyrics and made something totally unique. He was a genius. His huge influence can be seen in such acts as Flogging Molly, The Dropkick Murphys, The Mary Wallopers, Fontaines D.C., Lankum, Damian Dempsey, Lisa O'Neill and many more. When people complain about his ‘lifestyle’ they forget that it was his lifestyle that was the source of his inspiration. He wrote about the denizens of the dark streets of London with an eye as sharp as Charles Dickens. It was what he witnessed and wrote about. You could criticise other great writers like Dylan Thomas or Brendan Behan for the same reason, but I know they couldn’t have achieved such great art without their chosen lifestyle.
|Johnny & Shane.|
I think I only saw Shane three times. The best times were at Glastonbury in the 80s when The Pogues were at their peak. The sheer exuberance of their music was something to behold, and the audiences used to go wild. Live performance was definitely their forte. I’m sure many music fans have been looking back today with happy memories of seeing The Pogues. I’d also like to pay a tribute to Shane’s wife Victoria Mary Clarke. Shane was a lucky man to have found such a devoted wife who looked after him to the end. Despite what the critics may say Shane had a life that was well lived. He won’t be forgotten.
|Shane & Sinead.|