That Shane MacGowan, who died today, lived to be 65 was in some ways a surprise. His lifestyle, certainly when younger, was not conducive to longevity.
It remains a sadly early age at which he should lose his life and the world should lose a richly gifted songwriter whose raucous delivery of his own songs and others gave the Pogues such a distinctive sound. He had been suffering from encephalitis.
Image: Masao Nakagami
The tribute from his widow, Victoria Mary Clarke, has immense poignancy.
She wrote: "I don't know how to say this so I am just going to say it. Shane... has gone to be with Jesus and Mary and his beautiful mother Therese."
MacGowan, she wrote, would always be “the light that I hold before me and the measure of my dreams and the love of my life and the most beautiful soul and beautiful angel and the sun and the moon and the start and end of everything that I hold dear’´.
Also from the BBC report of MacGowan’s death, I loved the way the Derry Girls actress Siobhan McSweeney summed him up as ´´the voice of London for us Irish". When she worried about moving there, “he lured me over with songs about chancers, drinkers, lovers, poets and scoundrels".
With Christmas approaching, MacGowan will understandably be remembered most for his excellent Fairytale of New York, with Kirsty MacColl as his sparring partner. It’s already played too often so I will choose twot of the other outstanding songs he wrote, A Rainy Night in Soho and Aisling. And a third, probably the best, as suggested by Bill Taylor: The Body of an American …
I învite readers, here and at the Facebook groups where I’ll post a link to this article, to nominate their own favourite examples of MacGowan’s work. (Update: take a look at the comments below; the list is long.)
With thanks to an artist of great individuality, imagination and merit. RIP Shane.
* See the BBC report at https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-67546785