Shane MacGowan might have had a good life, but he deserved a better one. He was a lyrical poet who knew just how to apply beauty or aggression to his words. Many might not know the entire oeuvre of the Irishman - the depth of MacGowan's catalog was deep and wonderous - but the ones people likely do know are unforgettable.
Does it actually feel like Christmas, for instance, without listening to "Fairytale of New York" a few dozen times? Punk groups such as the Dropkick Murphys borrowed a lot from MacGowan and his group, the Pogues. MacGowan changed music in more ways than he likely knows and the world was better off having him in it as long as we did.
Sadly, however, Shane MacGowan passed away on November 30 at age 65. He had struggled greatly with his health for some time and was hospitalized in December 2022 with viral encephalitis. MacGowan had been in the hospital since June, mostly in intensive care, before being recently released. His wife, Victoria Mary Clarke, announced the news.
Pogues leader Shane MacGowan passed away on November 30
MacGowan wrote much of his beloved Ireland. He poetically described Irish culture in a unique way, and he did not mind getting into an argument with someone if they disrespected his home country. He fused punk and Celtic melodies unlike anyone else.
What follows are just a few of the social media posts about his death. The first post is a very funny anecdote from actor Kiefer Sutherland who had not met Shane MacGowan before spending a memorable night with the singer. The story is classic MacGowan.
Bruce Springsteen might be a rock icon, but he was heavily influenced by folk musicians. MacGowan would have fit perfectly with those Springsteen revered.
Billy Bragg is among those musicians who we might not even know had MacGowan not paved the way. Shane MacGowan made it OK for radio to play artists that weren't simply boring 1970s rock bands like Aerosmith.
Wartburton description is perfect. "Maverick" might be the best word for MacGowan.
McDonald speaks wonderfully here. MacGowan also once said of the IRA, to whom McDonald's Sinn Fein was once directly tied, "I was ashamed I didn’t have the guts to join the IRA – and the Pogues was my way of overcoming that."
So while this is a sad day, take some time to listen to some bits of excellence from Shane MacGowan. It will make your day better. And that likely would make him quite happy.