The other songs you’ll remember from Shane MacGowan and The Pogues besides ‘Fairytale of New York’
The Irish singer-songwriter penned the classic Christmas tune, but has a vast back-catalogue of much-loved hits.
The Pogues’ frontman Shane MacGowan has died at the age of 65 after a period of ill-health.
The musician’s wife Victoria Mary Clarke confirmed the news early on Thursday morning, issuing a statement on behalf of the family.
“Shane will always be the light that I hold before me and the measure of my dreams and the love of my life,” she wrote. “I am blessed beyond words to have met him and to have loved him and to have been so endlessly and unconditionally loved by him.”
MacGowan is best-known for Christmas classic ‘Fairytale of New York’, but his eclectic musical and literary influences marked him out as a trailblazer in popular music. He championed Irish folk music and brought elements of Irish culture and the experiences of the nation’s diaspora to a wider audience.
What are Shane MacGowan’s best songs?
Of course, The Pogue’s highest-charting and top-selling song is ‘Fairytale of New York’. The duet with Kirsty MacColl reached Number 2 in 1987 and continues to be one of the most well-loved festive songs to this day.
But MacGowan’s musical oeuvre runs far deeper than that.
The Pogues achieved their first UK Top 100 single in 1985 with ‘A Pair of Brown Eyes’, which featured on the band’s second album Rum, Sodomy & the Lash. It references Irish folk musicians Philomena Begley and Ray Lynam, helping to bring their work to a more mainstream audience. The video features then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher filling the place of Big Brother in a version of Britain inspired by the book Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Their next album, Poguetry in Motion, spawned a number of well-loved songs including ‘A Rainy Night In Soho’. The emotional ballad covers love and friendship, combining The Pogues’ usual off-beat musicality with piercingly sharp lyrics.
‘The Body of an American’ was named in Rolling Stone’s list of the Top 200 songs of the 1980s. It is a rousing account of life as an immigrant and was brought to a more modern audience by the iconic funeral scenes in HBO series The Wire.
The Pogues also released a highly-successful cover version of ‘Dirty Old Town’, written by the father of Kirsty MacColl. The song was initially written about Salford, England and The Pogues’ version has became an anthem for soccer team Salford City FC.
Shane MacGowan cause of death
Unfortunately the 65-year-old musician had been suffered from poor health for some time and recently spent a spell in hospital after being diagnosed with encephalitis. His wife confirmed that he had left hospital on 22 November and that they had been able to celebrate their wedding anniversary a few days later.
Ill health had plagued MacGowan in later life after decades of alcohol abuse. In 1988 he was diagnosed with hepatitis and worned that his life was in danger unless he stopped drinking spirits. From 2015 onwards he was forced to use a wheelchair following a series of falls that fractured his pelvis and injured his knees.
However despite health problems, MacGowan continued his involvement in music and returned to the studio in 2020 to record new songs with Irish band Cronin.