The fourth Pogues album, Peace and Love, is usually written off as the band’s first stumble, coming after two gem-packed records (Red Roses for Me and Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash) and a certified masterpiece, If I Should Fall From Grace With God. But I’ve been playing it a lot at the store lately, and if Peace and Love marks a falling off, it’s the kind of falling off most bands could only dream of.
I’m particularly taken with “Down All the Days,” the band’s tribute to Irish writer Christy Brown, who fought his way through poverty and a body wracked by cerebral palsy to become a celebrated author and poet. The song led me back to My Left Foot, the film version of Brown’s autobiography, which takes its title from the fact that Brown could only rely on one of his limbs to accomplish anything in life. The film established Daniel Day-Lewis, who played the mature Brown, as a god of acting, but Hugh O’Conor, playing the younger Brown, is every bit as good.
This scene, in which the boy first proves to his family he has a functioning mind, never fails to slay me: