The Pogues’ principal composer and boisterous vocalist, Shane MacGowan, who brought punk passion and energy to traditional Irish music, passed away on Thursday, according to his family. 65 was his age.
Irish President Michael D. Higgins declared that MacGowan’s song “Fairytale of New York,” which is a melancholic Christmas ballad that “will be listened to every Christmas for the next century or more,” is one of the composer’s best-known works. MacGowan’s presence and songwriting have made him a legendary figure in modern Irish culture.
Shane MacGowan’s wife Victoria Clarke, sister Siobhan, and father Maurice released a statement saying, “It is with the greatest grief and heaviest of hearts that we announce the demise of our most beautiful, lovely, and dearly cherished Shaun.”
Additionally, the statement said that the musician passed away quietly with his family by his side.
Later in 2022, the musician was diagnosed with viral encephalitis, which led to many months of hospitalization in Dublin. Ahead of his impending birthday on Christmas Day, he was released last week.
Though MacGowan gained notoriety as much for his strong songs as for his drunken, slurred performances, The Pogoes blended Irish folk and rock ‘n’ roll into a distinctive, enticing combination.
His repertoire included everything from wild party anthems to heartbreaking love ballads to candid pictures of life in the trash. With its very unfestival opening line, “It was Christmas Eve, baby, in the drunk tank,” The Pogues’ most well-known song, “Fairytale of New York,” tells the story of destitute immigrant lovers. No doubt the most popular Pogues song in Ireland and the UK is the duet featuring the gruff vocals of MacGowan and the velvety tones of the late Kirsty MacColl.
Shane MacGowan was referred to as “a close friend and the best songwriter of his age” by singer-songwriter Nick Cave.
Irish President Higgins said that “his songs encapsulate the measure of our aspirations, as Shane would call it, inside them.”
“With his eloquent expression of so many human emotions, his writings have brought Irish people throughout the world closer to their heritage and culture,” Higgins added.
The songs of MacGowan, according to Irish Prime Minister Leo Vardakas, “beautifully reflected the Irish experience, particularly the feeling of being Irish abroad.”
In the words of Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald, “Nobody conveyed the Irish tale like Shan—stories of emigration, heartbreak, dislocation, redemption, love, and joy.”
MacGowan was raised in rural Ireland before his family relocated to London. He was born on Christmas Day 1957 in England to Irish parents. His fantasies and desires have always revolved around Ireland. Growing up, he was exposed to a wide variety of musical influences, including jazz, rock, Motown, reggae, and Irish music, from family and neighbors.
During a breakdown in his teens, he spent time in a mental institution and attended the prestigious Westminster School in London, from which he was expelled.
MacGowan embraced the punk culture that erupted in Britain in the middle of the 1970s. Before joining The Pogoes with Jem Finer and Spider Stacey, he played under the stage name Shane O’Hooligan in a band called the Nipple Erectors.
The Pogoes, whose name was abbreviated from the vulgar Irish term Pogue Mahone, combined the fierce energy of punk with traditional Irish tunes and instruments, including the accordion, banjo, and tin whistle.
MacGowan said in “A Drink with Shane MacGowan,” a 2001 book he co-wrote with Clarke, “It never dawned to me that you could perform Irish music to a rock audience.” It finally dawned on me then. Form a rock and roll-influenced Irish band in London and perform Irish songs. Prior to starting to write, my plan was simply to rock out the classics.
Original songs like “Boys from the County Hell,” “Dark Streets of London,” and “Streams of Whisky” were mixed with boisterous renditions of Irish folk tunes on the band’s debut album, “Red Roses for Me,” which was published in 1984.
The band developed a devoted fan base and received recognition from music critics and other musicians, including Bono and Bob Dylan, while playing pubs and clubs throughout London and more.
The following two albums, “Rum, Sodomy and the Lash” (1985) and “If I Should Fall from Grace with God” (1988), contain a large number of MacGowan’s compositions. The songs ranged from lively romps like the title track of the latter album to tender ballads like “A Pair of Brown Eyes” and “The Broad Majestic Shannon.”
Two of MacGowan’s best tracks, “A Rainy Night in Soho” and “The Body of an American,” were included on the band’s 1986 EP, “Poguetry in Motion.” The latter was performed at Baltimore police officers’ funerals and was a major component of the early 2000s TV series “The Wire.”
He stated in his memoir, “I wanted to make pure music that could be from any time, to make time irrelevant, to make generations and decades irrelevant.”
The Pogoes enjoyed a brief period of international fame that was characterized by sold-out tours and American TV appearances. However, the band’s production and schedule became more unpredictable, partly because of MacGowan’s troubles with drugs and alcohol. In 1991, following a run of no-shows, notably when Dylan’s opening act, The Pogoes, grew annoying, the other members of the band dismissed him. Joe Strummer, the leader of Clash, momentarily took McGowan’s position in the band before it broke up.
In 1995 and 1997, MacGowan released two albums as part of Shane MacGowan and the Popes, his new band, on The Snake and The Crock of Gold. Although he had a history of drinking excessively and had performed with slurred words and at least one on-stage tumble, he got back together with The Pogues in 2001 for a number of shows and tours.
After fracturing his pelvis ten years ago, MacGowan experienced years of health issues and required a wheelchair. Prior to getting a complete set of implants in 2015—dubbed “the Everest of dentistry” by a dentist—MacGowan was well-known for having broken, decaying teeth. The Irish president gave him a lifetime achievement medal on his 60th birthday. A commemorative performance featuring Bono, Nick Cave, Sinead O’Connor, and Johnny Depp was held at Dublin’s National Performance Hall to commemorate the event.
“There are no words to express the pain that I am experiencing and the yearning for just one more of his grins that light up my world,” Clarke said on Instagram.
“I am so grateful to have met him, to have loved him, to have received his unwavering, unconditional love, and to have had so many years of life filled with love, joy, laughter, and adventure,” the woman wrote.
Published by : Reshraman