Fairwell You Bastard!
You'll howl and growl in our hearts forever
A totally off issue today but that’s how America East! rolls sometimes. Subscribe for the regular stories each Tuesday, be surprised by these odd ones!
Shane MacGowan died today. During the early years of the 1980s he and his band, The Pogues, were singularly responsible (according to me) for making the world scream traditional Irish songs, along with the ones he wrote that have become traditional Irish songs themselves. His audience knew his protest and love songs, his screaming, rambling, and stumbling about on stage. His alarming energy and honest-to-God worrisome nature wrapped so tight around him that it bound everyone to him even if you didn’t like him.
You may know only one song from him—”Fairytale of New York”—which has become a Christmas standard. It’s a typical MacGowan love ballad: the man is in the drunk tank, he’s crushed his lover’s heart, and she savages him with a fast spitting tirade we can all relate to if someone broke your heart.
My son texted me the news this morning. My brother confirmed it. I played The Pogues for my kids from the moment they popped out of me. My brother introduced the band to me sometime soon after their first album broke: this is among the most important of the 10,000 influences he’s responsible for in my life.
I responded to MacGowan’s death in the most natural way: I baked clementine biscuits from the recipe Jolene Handy gave in her Monday edition of Time Travel Kitchen. She is celebrating a terrific cookbook, The Irish Bakery, which should now land on several Christmas gift lists.
Bake and listen to Shane. It’s pretty possible they both will slip into your cookie/playlist.
Fairytale of New York—the improbable Christmas standard
If I Should Fall from Grace with God—the writer MacGowan at his best
Haunted with Sinead O’Connor—they belong together
The Parting Glass—pour a good measure and raise a toast to the man!
Go on with you, now, Shane. I’ll see you later!