(Previously posted on MyT)
I love this song.
I first heard the Pogues when I went to see Elvis Costello in Dublin in 1984, and they opened the show. I wasn’t impressed, and nor, I think, were most of the audience (even if the bass player was Costello’s girlfriend). Did we really need a bunch of London-Irish upstarts playing Irish music badly? No, we did not.
Actually … yes, we did. Their musicianship wasn’t really so bad, and improved hugely thereafter. What we were hearing was the shock of the new, or the ‘new old’ … Irish or London-Irish tunes with punk gusto and lyrical beauty or grit.
The Pogues were to Irish music in the 1980s what the Clancy Brothers and the Dubliners were in the 1960s, and by the end of the decade they had reached great heights (the Times and the Guardian both named If I Should Fall from Grace with God ‘album of the year’ in 1988, I think).
This could never have happened without the extraordinary talent of one man … Shane McGowan. I could write a lot more about McGowan (who, as a child, lived just a few miles from me on the shores of Lough Derg, though I wasn’t aware of him at the time) and the Pogues. And I probably will.