Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I grew up listening to punk as a kid, but fell in love with the Pogues when I heard them one St. Patrick's Day at the Toucan in Kingston. They were being played all night (no not live). I loved the way that they meshed the energy of punk with traditional Irish music, especially in their early recordings.

Shane MacGowan is one of the greatest singer/songwriters of our time...period! Just listen to the words in some of his brilliant songs like A pair of brown eyes, Rainy night in Soho and Lullaby of London . Pure Poetry! And then there's the best Christmas song of all time, Fairytale of New York.

When the Pogues first came out there were many traditional Irish musicians who were not impressed by their style. Their original name was 'Pogue Mahone', which is gaelic for 'Kiss my Arse'. I think that what many of these people didn't realize though was that the Pogues bridged the gap between different types of music.

Take me for instance...I never would have listened to an Irish song as a kid, but did just that through the Pogues. They opened up a whole new type of music for me to appreciate and enjoy. It was through the Pogues that I began listening to more traditional Irish musicians too such as the Cheiftains, the Dubliners, Christy Moore and even some of my Dad's old Clancy Brothers records. I even tought myself to play tin whistle, mandolin and fiddle, though not very well, and never in public, all because of the Pogues.

My appreciation of music now mostly comes from songs that tell a story, are told with passion and not just what the record companies think will sell today. While the music scene is a bit depressing these days, there are still some other great artists like Steve Earle (not Irish, but I think learned a lot from Shane MacGowan when they worked together on a few recordings) and Christy Moore who put out worthwhile music that I enjoy. Not surprising that another band that influenced my early taste in music, the Sex Pistols is fronted by an Irishman Johnny Rotten (Lydon). The Pistols were of course who influenced Shane MacGowan to form the Pogues, which seems very fitting.

So, Happy St. Patrick's Day. Enjoy a Guinness and some great music. And if your record/cd collection doesn't include the masterpiece album If I Should Fall From Grace With God.... go buy it today!

Here is my favourite version of the beautifully haunting traditional song Spancil Hill performed by Shane MacGowan and Christy Moore...


  1. LOVE fairytale of new york - first time i heard of it was from your post on christmas songs. also listen to 'fiesta' which was our theme song at the nipmuck trail marathon in connecticut a couple of years ago.