Shane MacGowan was the outward symbol of what millions of people globally saw as Irishness. He was and will forever remain at the forefront of Irish music, culture and storytelling.
From his punk days in London in the 1970s and the rise of The Pogues, to his long illness and subsequent withdrawal from public life, Shane took the torch that was passed to him from generations of Irish troubadours and used his rare abilities to reach new heights for Irish folk music.
It is almost 40 years since The Pogues debut album was released. Red Roses for Me would be the initiation for many to the new wave Irish/Punk/Folk fusion that would allow the band to remain at the pinnacle of the music scene for over a decade and beyond.
For me, as an 8 year old growing up the youngest of 9 children in the east end of Glasgow, I can be thankful to my older siblings for introducing this music to me. How we consume music has certainly changed in the last 40 years, but the lasting legacy of the unique style Shane had, means he along with The Pogues still list in my top 5 artists when it comes to Spotify Wrapped at the end of every year.
Shane was more than a front man. He was a teacher, a poet, a director and a star. He had the ability to not only paint a beautiful picture with his words, but build a set, furnish the surroundings and then make you feel like you were living and breathing every word he sang. A one-off and a legend in his time.
His tour stories are legendary, all of his gigs memorable to anyone fortunate enough to be there. I was too young to see The Pogues live first time around, but was lucky to see him play in and around Glasgow, including the reunion tour in 2002. However to see to him play at the Barrowlands along with the full arrangement of musicians is a memory that will stay with me forever.
From The Pogues to The Popes, the master lyricist always produced a story that had you mesmerised from the opening chords and words. Collaborations with Sinead O’Connor, Christy Moore, The Dubliners and Johnny Depp all broadened the appeal of the lovable rogue.
A genuine sadness hit me when I heard the sad news of Shanes passing. So many happy memories of family gatherings and gigs, or introducing his music to my own children now. Shane has been a staple of my music tastes for 4 decades and his gift to us will be that his music and poetic storytelling has already become part of the great Irish songbook, shared and cherished by those who knew him well, and folk like me who just connected with his music.
Christy Moore probably put it best “Fair play to you Shane MacGowan…….but you sure know how to write them boy”
I’ve been loving you a long time,
Down all the years, down all the days
And I’ve cried for all your troubles
Smiled at your funny little ways
Martin Donaldson is a Glasgow East End Bhoy, He made my first trip to Celtic Park in 1983 for a 0-0 draw with Brechin City & thankfully that never put him off going back. He now sits perched high in section 409 of the North Stand with his 2 kids making memories along the Celtic Way.
He loves picking out those matches from yester-year to find out much more about the legendary names & faces that have graced the Celtic Jersey over the years. He is a keen fundraiser for The Celtic Foundation & The British Heart Foundation as they both strive to make a difference and to change peoples lives all over the world.
The Print Edition of issue 130 is sold out but you can still download the digital edition to read more quality articles from our team of writers.