Shane MacGowan of the Celtic-punk Irish rock band ‘The Pogues’ passed away on Thursday, November 30 and our farewell to him is bitterly due. The punk-rock antihero of his era, MacGowan was no stranger to the fragility of life and the overbearing inevitability of death.
A self-proclaimed savor of Irish music, MacGowan’s songs look into a myriad of mortal conundrums that he said is the heart of Irish music in an interview with Rolling Stones in 1985. Songs like ‘The Sick Bed of Cuchulain‘, where he disrupts his own funeral post-burial to demand more from life, were what the iconic punk-rock revelations of the early 80s were all about.
Shane MacGowan’s Early Years
However, what really shot the band, and MacGowan, to meteoric rise were the three albums ‘Red Roses for Me‘, 1984; ‘Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash‘, 1985; and of course, the all-time-favorite ‘If I Should Fall From Grace with God of 1988‘– MacGowan’s holy trinity as a songwriter.
A child of immigrants in a war-torn world, MacGowan’s songs violently reflect the messy, chaotic, raw reality in which nobody belongs anywhere. However, despite his hellish stage performances and nomadic philosophies, his work was heavily laced with excerpts of several literary icons. From James Joyce to Edna O’Brian, the unlikely oxymorons in MacGowan’s writing are perhaps a touch of his childhood in the English culture.
A Christmas baby in the late 50s, MacGowan was born to Irish parents in the English countryside where he spent some part of his childhood. His farm-life with folklore and fantasy, however, soon shifted to the hustling bustling city of London as the family moved there when he was eight. An Irish child in the politically volatile British world at the time, he was quickly alienated and bullied by his peers.
MacGowan’s Musical Mania That Followed
Shane MacGowan’s struggles of assimilating into a world from which he was repeatedly pushed out became the lifeline for his explosive music. His songs sent ripples throughout England for his antagonizing verses, staunch Irish themes, and an innate ability to bring together the aliens.
Almost half a decade later and a reality without MacGowan, his brilliant songwriting still has an effect on the listener which rivals many of his era. And though we are saying adieu to ‘The Pogues’ musical genius, his legacy will continue to live on – much like the rivalry between the Irish and the British.
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