Mar 17, 2009

Maybe some day there will be a St. MacGowan's Day

I'll warn you right now. This one's gonna be a doozy. And a bit mushy too.

So it's St. Patrick's Day. Well, every day is Patty's Day as far as I'm concerned. I was going to let it go with a simple photo or 2, but then a friend from work sent me something that inspired me to write about what I've failed to write about recently. Below is what the lass Erin O'Donnell sent me, and below that, I continue my 20-plus year unhealthy fascination, addiction, and obession to all things Shane MacGowan. What? You're surprised?


It's 1987 and I'm in my bedroom sitting on my black beanbag listening to KUCR on my Magnavox sterio when they play a couple tracks off of Rum, Sodomy and the Lash. I honestly don't remember which songs they were, but it was angry enough and fast enough and the music was awesome and Shane was awesome and I was immediately hooked on the Pogues. I later had a hard time smuggling the actual cassette into the house because my mom wouldn't let me buy an album with such a filthy title. And that just made me like the Pogues even more. Good work mom.

Before the Pogues, Shane was already a teenage star after some chick (it's always a chick) cut his head with a broken bottle at a Clash show in '77 or '78. There was blood everywhere, and a photo of it ended up on the cover of a London Newspaper with a headline that read something like, "Punk Savages Take Over London." A little irony is that in the early '90s when Shane was kicked out of the band, Joe Strummer actually stepped in as the lead singer during live shows. But you probably already knew that.

There is a lot of Shane-inspired art in the world today. I like this one because he's wearing a top hat, 'a la two of my other heros, Lincoln and Bob Dylan.

Never the poster boy for sobriety. I don't know why Shane bothers wearing a watch. He's seldom on time. When Denise & I saw the Pogues at the House of Blues, they came on stage so late that the audience started to think Shane was passed out drunk back stage. Actually, that's always a worry at a Pogues show.

I'm not sure when this photo was taken, but it looks pre-Pogues. Probably in the late '70s when Shane was the front man for the Nipple Erectors or the Nips. Before that he wrote, published, and printed his own punk rock magazine. There once was a time when I wanted to do the same.

Shane & the Pogues have a loyal fan base all over the world. The first time I saw them, I felt like I was at a B-list Hollywood premier.

Shane too suffers for his people.

This is a great book. Dictated, then printed by his on-again, off-again girlfriend Victoria, it's full of stories from the early days of English punk rock, soul, and reggae, all the way to the present. He even talks about his teeth, or lack thereof.

The men (and woman) they couldn't hang.

On Wednesday, October 18, 2006, I saw the Pogues at the Wiltern for the first time. It was their first west coast appearance with Shane as the frontman in over 15 years. I had an extra ticket because Denise couldn't go, so originally I was just going to give it away at the door because I didn't want to "babysit" someone who wouldn't appreciate the show as much as me. A couple days before the show, my mom called and asked if she could go.

When we got there it was an all-ages show. The kids to my left had X's printed on their hands and the people to my right were eligible for social security. As we waited for them to take stage, the Clash's Straight To Hell played in the background as a tribute to the late Joe Strummer (that song means so much more to me now and whenever I hear it, it makes me tingle). Just before the song was about to end, the lights dimmed, they took the Wiltern's Ornate stage and broke into If I Should Fall From Grace with God. No lie, I began to weep.

Shane and the Pogues can kick you in the brains, plus they're beautiful and here's why:

"I could have been someone
Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can´t make it out alone
I´ve built my dreams around you"
- Fairytale of New York

"And now I'm lying here I've had too much booze
I've been shat on and spat on and raped and abused
I know that I am dying and I wish I could beg
For some money to take me from the old main drag"
-The Old Main Drag

"This morning on the harbour
When I said goodbye to you
I remember how I swore
That I'd come back to you one day
And as the sunset came to meet
The evening on the hillI told you
I'd always love
I always did and I always will

He fought the champ in pittsburgh
And he slashed him to the ground
He took on tiny tartanella
And it only went one round
He never had no time for reds
For drink or dice or whoresAnd he never threw a fight
Unless the fight was rightSo they sent him to the war"
- The Body of an American

"I've been loving you a long time
Down all the years, down all the days
And I've cried for all your troubles
Smiled at your funny little ways
We watched our friends grow up together
And we saw them as they fell
Some of them fell into Heaven
Some of them fell into Hell
I took shelter from a shower
And I stepped into your arms
On a rainy night in Soho
The wind was whistling all it's charms
I sang you all my sorrows
You told me all your joys
Whatever happened to that old song
To all those little girls and boys
Sometimes I wake up in the morning
The gingerlady by my bed
Covered in a cloak of silence
I hear you talking in my head
I'm not singing for the future
I'm not dreaming of the past
I'm not talking of the fist time
I never think about the last"
- A Rainy Night in Soho

"A curse on the judges, the coppers and screws
Who tortured the innocent, wrongly accused
For the price of promotionAnd justice to sell
May the judged be their judges when they rot down in hell

May the whores of the empire lie awake in their beds
And sweat as they count out the sins on their heads
While over in Ireland eight more men lie deadKicked down and shot in the back of the head"
-Streets of Sorrow/Birmingham Six

"And in the euston tavern you screamed it was your shout
But they wouldn't give you service so you kicked the windows out
They took you out into the street and kicked you in the brains
So you walked back in through a bolted door and did it all again
At the sick bed of cuchulainn we'll kneel and say a prayer
And the ghosts are rattling at the door and the devil's in the chair"
- The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn

"Well Jimmy played harmonica in the pub where I was born
He played it from the night time to the peaceful early morn
He soothed the souls of psychos and the men who had the horn
And they all looked very happy in the morning"
- Sally MacLennane

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