Apparently the continual tongue-in-cheek rumor over the past forty years that hard-living Shane MacGowan (aka Shane O’Hooligan), the original frontman of the Folk-Irish punk band The Pogues and among the Top 20 male singers of all time,1 The Top 20 is based on my opinion. passed away is actually true.
MacGowan was part rebel, and part romantic; part punk, and part poet.
Top 20 Male Singers
Here’s my Top 20 male vocalists list vis-à-vis Metallica’s James Hetfield’s:
Two points about the list:
- Irish Princess Sinéad O’Connor, who seemingly named her son, Shane, after Mr. MacGowan, passed away just four months ago, in July, at age 56.
- Just like me and Metallica’s Hetfield, MacGowan also appreciated the talents of country singer/songwriter Johnny Cash. In the song “A Pair of Brown Eyes,” he wrote this referring to Johnny Cash:
And on the jukebox, Johnny sang About a thing called love
Guardian: MacGowan Dies at 65
According to a post shared on social media by one of my contacts,2Ironically, I also learned about the passing of Sinéad O’Connor earlier this year from a post by Amy, who is the sister of my high school classmate and football teammate, Lance. MacGowan died at age 65, evidently due to complications from viral encephalitis, for which he was hospitalized in 2022.
Here are some snippets from the article by The Guardian:
- MacGowan sought to bring the power of Irish folk music to the rock scene, with his writing drawing from literature, mythology, and the Bible.
- He frequently wrote about Irish culture and nationalism and the experiences of the Irish diaspora, reclaiming the racist “Paddy” stereotype – or reinforcing it, depending on who you asked.
- MacGowan said he learned a song a day from family on his mother’s side and gave his first performance aged three. “They put me up on the kitchen table to sing and the song went down very well,” he told the Guardian. “I did public performances regularly after that.”
- As a teenager he considered joining the priesthood – but then he found punk.
- He began drinking as a child when his family gave him Guinness to help him sleep, and suffered from the effects of drug and alcohol abuse, […].
- [On the timelessness of The Pogues’s music]: It’s based on strong melodies, which to me is what a song is.
Shane’s Best Song
For me, it’s difficult to pick a favorite song written by Shane MacGowan and The Pogues because there are so many good songs, so I’ll share this gem, which reminds me of a neighborhood in NYC where I once lived: Hell’s Kitchen, which used to be “a bastion of poor and working-class Irish Americans” with a “gritty reputation.”3Hell’s Kitchen is much different nowadays.
Here are The Pogues performing “Boys From The County Hell” from their 1984 album Red Roses For Me live on the British TV show The Tube in November 1985.4Note that Shane mumbles the lyrics that contain profanity since The Tube TV show prohibited these words being sung on live TV.
"Boys From The County Hell" by The Pogues [Verse 1] On the first day of March, it was raining It was raining worse than anything that I have ever seen I drank ten pints of beer and I cursed all the people there I wished that all this rain would stop falling down on me [Chorus] And it's lend me ten pounds, I'll buy you a drink And mother, wake me early in the morning [Verse 2] At the time, I was working for a landlord And he was the meanest bastard that you have ever seen And to lose a single penny would grieve him awful sore And he was a miserable bollocks and a bitch's bastard's whore [Chorus] [Verse 3] I recall that we took care of him one Sunday We got him out the back and we broke his fucking balls And maybe that was dreaming and maybe that was real But all I know is I left the place without a penny or fuck all [Chorus] [Verse 4] But now I've the most charming of verandas I sit and watch the junkies, the drunks, the pimps, the whores Five green bottles sitting on the floor I wish to Christ, I wish to Christ that I had fifteen more [Chorus 2x] [Verse 5] The boys and me are drunk and looking for you We'll eat your frigging entrails and we won't give a damn Me daddy was a blue shirt and my mother a madam And my brother earned his medals at My Lai in Vietnam [Chorus] [Verse 6] On the first day of March, it was raining It was raining worse than anything that I have ever seen Stay on the other side of the road, 'cause you can never tell We've a thirst like a gang of devils, we're the boys from the county hell [Chorus 2x]
Over the years, I’ve shared songs by The Pogues on social media.
Just last month, I shared a Halloween-oriented song by the band. And, for Saint Patrick’s Day last year, in a business-oriented blog, I mentioned the sad song “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda,” which The Pogues covered.
Now you. What is your favorite song written by Shane MacGown or performed by The Pogues?
- 1The Top 20 is based on my opinion.
- 2Ironically, I also learned about the passing of Sinéad O’Connor earlier this year from a post by Amy, who is the sister of my high school classmate and football teammate, Lance.
- 3Hell’s Kitchen is much different nowadays.
- 4Note that Shane mumbles the lyrics that contain profanity since The Tube TV show prohibited these words being sung on live TV.