A Farewell To A Pogue…And Kiss My Arse

Shane MacGowan’s funeral has been going on all day in Dublin and what will undoubtedly be an epic wake hasn’t even started.

Massive crowds lined the street to say goodbye to The Pogues’ frontman, someone who defined a certain kind of Irishness and was deeply loved for it.

Nick Cave was there to do a reading, as was Johnny Depp, Bob Geldof and Bono with a mass of other celebrities in the pews.

The outpouring across the world might seem surprising for someone who only had one hit that broke into public consciousness.

But what a song.

Fairytale of New York will be with us forever at this time of year, capturing something deep and powerful, the raw emotion of people who hate each other but can’t walk away because behind it all their love is enduring.

And it changed reality. Once the song hit hard, the NYPD set up the choir they never had before – even though the choir in MacGowan’s lyric is the chorus of the n’er-do-wells banged up in the drunk tank.

But the rest of his output was phenomenal and just as affecting. Sally MacLennane. A Pair of Brown Eyes. In fact the whole of Rum, Sodomy and the Lash.

Few people know Shane went to Westminster Public School on a scholarship. It’s to his credit he didn’t use any of the advantages that afforded him. He ploughed his own furrow with his own talent.

Shane and The Pogues meant a huge amount to me in my formative years. The music captured the worldview that I love and which has been embedded in all my writing – a deep romanticism suffusing the urban landscape. Rain in Soho. Mist on Albert Bridge.

With that genius came a huge amount of self-destructiveness as is often the case with brilliant artists, the light and the dark bound up together creating a synergy that reveals truths.

Shane was a drunk. He lived in the pub in Kilburn before he moved to Ireland, chain smoking and legless. When I wrote a piece about him trying to kick the booze, all the other members of The Pogues got in touch to say, no, he’s killing himself. They were all desperately worried. That was years ago and somehow Shane just kept going, until he didn’t.

You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone and I have no doubt that Shane MacGowan’s fame will now grow to the level it deserves.

So kiss my arse, Shane – the meaning of the band’s original name, Pogue ma Hone. Kiss my arse and let’s see Fairytale of New York the Christmas number one.

Your Soundtrack For The Rapture

Planning a party for when the worlds ends tomorrow with the Rapture and all the devout fly off to heaven?

Here’s your playlist…

Hellhound on my Trail – Robert Johnson
Aloha from Hell – The Cramps
Armageddon Days (Are Here Again) – The The
Queer – Garbage
When the Sun Goes Down – Arctic Monkeys
Godless – The Dandy Warhols
I’ve Got my TV and my Pills – Julian Cope
Heaven Up Here – Echo and the Bunnymen
Shoplifters of the World Unite – The Smiths
Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell – The Flaming Lips
Beasley Street – John Cooper Clarke
Burning Sky – The Jam
Sinnerman – Nina Simone
Too Tough To Die – Martina Topley-Bird
Demon Days – Gorillaz
Big Night Out – Fun Lovin’ Criminals
Do Anything You Want To – Thin Lizzy
Burn it Down – Dexy’s Midnight Runners
Boys from the County Hell – The Pogues
(I’ll Love You) Till the End of the World – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
Sympathy for the Devil – Rolling Stones
The End – The Doors

And finally…

I Think We’re Alone Now – Girls Aloud

New Music – Occasionally David

Every now and then I get sent music by bands and individuals who’ve enjoyed the books (let me point out now that this is a *good* thing. I like free things, and I like music).

I recently received a CD from Occasionally David, a band that has been circling the UK music scene since the 70s, heavily rooted in English psychedelia. The core of the band is Clive Whitelock and Ray Bate, who first met in ’69. Influential British DJ John Peel championed them in 1980 when they released a single, I Can’t Get Used to Losing You (so I’m Coming back).

They sent me Forever Changes, their psychedelic/garage version of Love’s classic sixties album, which was previously only available on limited edition cassette in 1987. And excellent it is too, a lopsided, particularly English take on Love’s material, quirky, trippy and powerful.

As an aside, psychedelia and garage is an area I’m particularly interested in – though I pretty much listen to every genre – and anyone who’s read Jack of Ravens and Wonderland knows of my debt to Love.

You can hear more of Occasionally David’s stuff at their MySpace page.

And any artists reading this, send me something and if I like it I’ll give it a mention. I listen to *a lot* of music, particularly when I’m working, and I’m always on the look-out for something new.

Age Of Misrule – The Soundtrack

Check out Alex Roberts,who’s been gigging across the UK like crazy in recent months. He’s a guitarist, with a style that crosses lots of boundaries – folk, blues, baroque, with echoes of Nick Drake among others – and in-between his musical inspirations you’ll also find Age of Misrule.

I came across his track Court of the Yearning Heart a couple of months back and liked it immensely. For those interested in the myth/music crossover, have a listen to his second album, By the Ley, which also features a bonus track referencing Black Shuck.

You can listen to Court of the Yearning Heart on his site, above, or go to his MySpace page, where you can also find the latest gig information. I notice he’s playing the Tintagel Arms in Tintagel, Cornwall, on December 19, which is remarkably fitting and sounds like a great solstice celebration.

He’s also got some really interesting experimental electronica at www.myspace.com/aethertalk.

Age of Misrule has inspired a few musicians now, and it’s always a rush to hear how the stories can, in a spiral dance-y fashion, spark off another creator’s work.