Saturday, March 17, 2007

St Patricks's Day: MacGowan & The Pogues Get a NY Times Tribute

I recently went into a Borders store and took advantage of their "Mix and Burn" feature that allows you to take various songs of your choice and transfer them onto a CD that they'll label and burn for you for a reasonable fee. I included songs by various artists - Ryan Adams, Josh Ritter, Death Cab For Cutie, Peter Ostroushko, Yusuf (Cat Stevens), Guy Davis, etc. I burned a song called Fairytale of New York by one of my all-time favorite groups - The Pogues (of whom I suspect was a chief inspiration for the Black 47 song 40 Shades of Blue.) Reading today's Opinion section of the New York Times, I couldn't help but notice that the song was also well-remembered by editorial writer Nicholas Kulish, who's written a tribute piece to Shane MacGowan.
To steep yourself in the Pogues requires you to read James Joyce and Brendan Behan, to listen to both the Clash and the Dubliners, and to take up some, but, I hope, not all, of the legendary bad habits of our latter-day Baudelaire, Shane.
On this St. Paddy's day, I plan to raise a glass to Shane for all the joys that he and the Pogues have brought to me down these many years. 'Tis many a party they've livened up for me in this lifetime.

Note: You can read Andy Webster's related column about MacGowan at the NYT website:
A Ramble Through the Mind of the Pogues’ Poet
It might be said that Mr. MacGowan speaks in a Joycean stream of consciousness, but a conversation with him is closer to a pinwheeling ramble with a very well-seasoned regular at the corner pub. He speaks in a flurry of digressions, uttered in a semi-slurred Irish-London accent that is tough to decipher at times. When, during one tangent, the term “British Isles” arose, Mr. Cashman was quick to correct it.

“Don’t use the phrase British Isles,” he said. “It’s England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.” He added, “If you say it any other way, he’d probably throw his glass at you.”

Music writer Alan K. Crandall on Shane Macgowan:
MacGowan's descent doesn't strike me funny at all. Maybe someday we'll be seeing his obituary. Or maybe not; he's stuck around this long... Or maybe he'll pull himself out of it. All I know is, he's a great talent and the price of living up to his shambling image has been a ton of brilliant music that he could have been making, and me, I think that's too high a price to pay. Way too high.

Seamus Walsh and the Mines of 'Comer

Since this is St. Patrick's Day, I thought I'd let you know about a story of a miner and his friends and family who worked the Castlecomer coal mines of Leinster in Kilkenny, Ireland. Seamus Walsh is a wonderful storyteller whose book is being brought to life on Irish television.

Here is an example of Mr. Walsh's haunting yet poetic phrasing:

This is a true story about a mining family, trying to survive in Moneenroe nearly forty years ago. Why is there a yearning to go back, to what is long gone, is it perhaps because part of you, your family, your friends, men you worked with, laughed and cried with are permanently fossilised ' in the seam of your memory, a seam that is ancient and gone forever, as that which was plunged, from the depths of the Deerpark Mines.

An old fisherman looks out to the great mother ocean, not able anymore to cast his net, yet, those eyes know he has been in touch with life and death.

So the miner looks under the great devil earth, he too has been in touch and is unable to forget.

St Patrick's Day Birthdays

Happy Birthday wishes go out to two of my favorites ladies in this world - the bonny Kathleen and Socorro hermosa. I love you both.