Sitting in a pub when you’re 10 years old with a packet of salt and vinegar crisps and a bottle of panda pop with your mum and your uncles and hearing music in the background that you don’t completely undertsand yet, only what they’ve explained in drunken language, it can really get your mind turning in ways you can never imagine.
I can’t remember exactly when I heard The Pogues for the first time but of course it was in a pub, where else could it be? I remember seeing my mum and uncles putting down pints of beer and hearing this crazy Irish music in the background and someone shouting at the barman in an Irish accent “Put that fucking Pogues on” and on comes the Irish rover and my mum says “yes” under her breath and puts her hand into the air and then starts tapping the beer mat on the table.
Every year from then on, especially around Christmas that famous song “Fairytale” is memorialised through re-releases and music t.v and re plays on Top Of The Pops classics but if this was any other song it would be watered down and put back on the shelves of history and only talked about on documentaries with interviews with celebrities all saying “do you remember that song?” But not for this song, it’s a little bit different and nostalgic for people and they still love to hear it.
The song became their staple song with the voice of Shane and Kirsty and Spiders tin whistle and the lyrics it’s the song people want to hear being played and it’s constantly in the all time greatest Christmas song lists, but I don’t think that’s fair when you find yourself listening to the rest of the bands music.
Through the years of being a teenager listening to indie, punk and my old favourites of classic rock, the Pogues continued to stand out as a band I want to see so I took my time over the next couple of years shifting my way through their record collection and discovering songs that no body who’s heard of the band would have know.
Over the next couple of years I found out everything I could about this crazy front man Shane MacGowan and the music that influenced him, The Dubliners and The Clancy Brothers to name a few where some of the artists he grew up with and I would have to make sure I saved time when I wasn’t playing in bands myself to listening to these bands.
At one point I even became a little bit obsessed with trying to find every documentary made about the man or the band.
I remember a documentary produced by the BBC about the recording of the song Fairytale of New York and I made sure that I recorded it for future reference.
YouTube became very helpful, all I needed to do was type in Shanes name and an interview or a documentary would pop up and I would be glued to the computer screen for the next couple of hours and they all became a repeat viewing, especially when I was unemployed and even today I sometimes find my self re-watching them.
Whenever I mentioned The Pogues to anyone, or even the bands that influenced Shane himself, nobody took time to discover them for themselves, or bothered to even listen to them but at this point I didn’t really care, I’ve found the band that i’ll be listening to until I can’t get out of bed anymore.
Shane took on abit of a personality and his image stood out amongst people, the image of being a drunk and waste of talent, he’s rotten teeth and the guy who should have been dead by the time he was 40 but I slowly come to realise that he’s a poet and that nobody really knows that he’s a poet, for a lot of people he’s just a drunk frontman of a band who wrote a Christmas song that everyone loves, a song that helps you get into the spirit of the season and get over the struggle of it all, but the band and his writing are more than that, it’s poetry and mayhem on stage when they play live, it’s something you can truly get behind and Shane and the rest of the band have never taken on that thing of being “cool” and something for hipsters to follow.
I bought The Pogues live in Paris and I said to myself I’m going to save this for a special night, so I saved it for New Years Eve.
While everyone went out I decided to stay home with a bottle of whiskey and watch the performance and even my mum decided to join me and both of us sat and watched the band play a set with all the mayhem and the craziness the band became known for and when it finished we looked at the bottle and realised we had finished it but my mum remembered she had one hidden away in her cupboard so she got up and got the booze. When she came back we decided to restart the show and make our way through the second bottle of whiskey.
We stayed up till three in the morning watching the DVD, we missed the new year countdown and my dad had gone to bed leaving us both to get drunk.
The next morning we both said we’ll have to do that again next yet, sit up till 3 and get drunk watching the Pogues.
So every year it’s been a tradition, whether I’m at home or not I’ve managed to find a time around new year to watch The Pogues live In Paris, I don’t know if it’s the best performance they had because I was never there in the 80’s when they were at their peak but it’s the one I’ll always remember and it will be the first one I talk about if someone asks me about the Pogues live.
I think we’ve seen the last of the Pogues live, Shane doing his thing with his new set of teeth, the guitarist and one of the lyricist of the band Phil Chevron passed away of cancer not to long ago.
The bands days look to be over, but that’s ok, when I look back at the first time I heard them to discovering the albums and the live performances what more can I ask for from a band and I hope that people can go out of their way and find the band for themselves and experience what I’ve experienced over the years.
I could go into depth about the band and the man who fronted them for 30 years, from the Nipple Erectors to the new Republicans, from Shane’s punk years and the day he had his “ear” bitten off. Maybe I will go in depth one day about the Pogues and maybe one day I can sit and have a quick pint with the man himself and maybe have a chat with Andrew Ranken about the drums, but for now i’ll leave it here. I’m going for a pint.