The extraordinary world of Shane MacGowan and The Pogues is explored in the new issue of Hot Press – an issue that, by poignant coincidence, was released in shops the very morning (Thursday, Nov 30th) that the legendary singer and songwriter died, aged 65.
With The Pogues featuring as the cover stars, the issue includes original, in-depth contributions and reflections from some of the people that knew Shane best, including his sister, Siobhan MacGowan, and fellow founding member of The Pogues, Jem Finer – as well as Nick Cave, Damien Dempsey, The Mary Wallopers, Steve Lillywhite and Johnny Cronin.
The feature was designed to coincide with a special exhibition, 'They Gave The Walls A Talking: The Extraordinary Story of The Pogues and Shane MacGowan', coming to EPIC, The Irish Emigration Museum, during the month of December.
Hot Press were asked by EPIC to get involved in curating the seasonal exhibition – and it was an idea that appealed enormously. The Pogues are one of the greatest Irish bands of all time. But they are, of course, also more than just an Irish band. We spoke to key members of the Pogues camp, and people were up for it.
What was intended to be a celebration of Shane’s life and impact while he was still with us has now taken on another role, as a powerful tribute straight from his friends, family, and fellow musicians.
Nick Cave, one of the issue’s contributors, stated that, even before he first met Shane in the late '80s, he looked up to him as "a hero".
"I really felt that he was the great songwriter of my generation," he remarked. "I thought he was, as a songwriter, head and shoulders above everybody else."
Damien Dempsey noted that Shane “will be remembered forever for his beautiful songs for getting Irish music and giving it a good kick up the arse. He brought it to a whole new generation and kept it alive and vital.”
Shane’s sister, novelist Siobhan MacGowan, meanwhile, recalled the influence their father and mother had on these young aspiring artists.
“Our parents were huge influences on us,” she said. “They were way before their time… They made us believe that we could do anything we wanted. They gave us a huge sense of belief in ourselves. Which was wonderful.”
ONE OF THE ALL-TIME GREATS
"This is desperately sad news for anyone who loves Irish music,” Hot Press editor Niall Stokes said. "There is no doubt that Shane MacGowan was one of the all-time great songwriters – and will be remembered as such. In our Christmas issue, Nick Cave, who is such a brilliant wordsmith himself, pays hugely eloquent tribute to Shane, hailing him as the greatest songwriter of his generation.
“No one wrote about people on the margins of society as well as Shane. There is a deep sense of compassion and love of humanity in his work, which gives it a unique emotional power. There is also a wonderful poetic quality to his use of language.
"He truly was one of a kind – an exceptional and courageous talent, who hugely influenced the course of Irish music, and whose songs will still be sung in fifty and a hundred years time.
“Our heart goes out to his wonderful partner Victoria Mary Clarke, to his sister Siobhan and his father Maurice – and to all of the extended Pogues clan."
The current issue of Hot Press – featuring cover stars The Pogues – is in shops now, and is also available to purchase; also online from shop.hotpress.com