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Poet of The Pogues Shane MacGowan dies age 65

From The Nips through The Pogues to The Popes Shane MacGowan understood punk was an attitude not a type of music. Poetry with a political, compassionate & empathetic edge.

Pogues frontman and songwriter Shane MacGowan who has died age 65

In the song Thousands Are Sailing, The Pogues' frontman Shane MacGowan sings "when I got back to my empty room, I suppose I must have cried."

As I write this I am on my own in a room and I am crying.

I didn't know Shane, never met him and for sure never will, yet he defined something in me or rather he helped me define myself. He articulated what it means to be an outsider, to accept chaos rather than the normal. A true punk who didn't write or play 'punk' music - except he did, only channelled via traditional Irish tunes.

I was lucky enough to live in London in the late 80s pomp of The Pogues, saw them live dozens of times and survived their legendary Paddy's Day gigs in Brixton. I saw him paint his poetry of doomed romance, his stories of London Irish life and emigrants, war, sex, fighting, drinking, smoking and of course love. And somehow it all made perfect sense to someone born and bred in a boring, English provincial backwater.

I also saw him carried off stage horizontally by two roadies, too drunk even to cling to the microphone stand, leaving Spider Stacy to take over vocal duties.

Two sides of the many which made up this creative, conflicted, artistic, romantic, loving soul. As Aristotle said "no great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness". Maybe at times, like pianist Oscar Levant, he erased the fine line between genius and insanity.

For full details of his extraordinary life, look elsewhere for complete obituaries. This is a purely personal tribute to someone who affected my life profoundly. He brought me huge happiness and the ability to embrace sadness and darkness. I am deeply sad that Shane has moved on. I don't have a shred of faith or belief in the afterlife yet somehow the thought of him having the craic with Kirsty MacColl, Sinéad O'Connor and Philip Chevron fills me with joy.

We will always have the art he produced - it cannot be taken away. Poetry, politics, compassion, empathy, romance, drink, drugs, self destruction, redemption.

As a manifesto this is hard to beat:

In the rosy parks of England

We'll sit and have a drink

Of VP wine and cider 'til we can hardly think

And we'll go where the spirits take us

To heaven or to hell

And kick up bloody murder in the town we love so well

I'm off for a drink.

Rave on Shane Patrick Lysaght MacGowan. Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann


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