Tag Archives: Pogues

The Christmas list

 

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Green thoughts

No explanation required, I hope.

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Blue Monday

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:

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Yuletide Poguery

Walking through Barnes & Noble the other day, I heard an awful sanitized version of this tune. Here’s the original and still the best.

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Pub, Pogues, and Pelecanos

George Pelecanos, novelist and former writer for The Wire, is a fan of the Pogues. The Pogues are fans of The Wire, which used some of their songs throughout its five seasons, notably “Body of an American” played during the several Irish wakes that take place. So when Pelecanos went to Europe to promote his novel The Way Home, it was only to be expected that they would get together for a pub date. If you, like me, love all three of them — Pogues music, Pelecanos novels, The Wire — along with pubs, you’ll want to follow every clip on the man’s site.

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Friday finds

Limbs

Apparently quite a few artificial limbs have been left behind at Travelodge and Swallow Hotels over the years.

Aravind Adiga, author of the Man Booker Prize-winning The White Tiger and the new story collection Between the Assassinations, gets the full literary Monty from the Daily Beast, with articles, reviews and essays.

The Don DeLillo novel that Don DeLillo won’t allow to be republished.

What you have to give up to be a writer.

Obey the fungus.

Editing, unediting and dis-editing the stories of Raymond Carver.

“While Apollo was on its way to the moon, I was on a Russian ocean liner with my husband and three kids on our way home to America. The Captain came on the ship’s sound system one morning and told us (in Russian and English) that Americans had walked on the moon, and ruefully but politely congratulated us. The kids, not really knowing what a blow it was to the Russians, put up a little cheer — and the Russian passengers on deck were kind or unprejudiced enough to cheer with them.”

SF writers and their work spaces.

Getting a look at Thomas Pynchon.

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‘Thousands Are Sailing’

Like the man says, this is one of the great overlooked Pogues songs. “Overlooked” because people tend to credit Shane McGowan with all the best songs, the way many people think “Something” is a Lennon-McCartney tune, but this is one of Phillip Chevron’s finest moments as a songwriter.

The island it is silent now
But the ghosts still haunt the waves
And the torch lights up a famished man
Who fortune could not save

Did you work upon the railroad
Did you rid the streets of crime
Were your dollars from the white house
Were they from the five and dime

Did the old songs taunt or cheer you
And did they still make you cry
Did you count the months and years
Or did your teardrops quickly dry

Ah, no, says he, ’twas not to be
On a coffin ship I came here
And I never even got so far
That they could change my name

Thousands are sailing
Across the western ocean
To a land of opportunity
That some of them will never see
Fortune prevailing
Across the western ocean
Their bellies full
Their spirits free
They’ll break the chains of poverty
And they’ll dance

In Manhattan’s desert twilight
In the death of afternoon
We stepped hand in hand on Broadway
Like the first man on the moon

And “The Blackbird” broke the silence
As you whistled it so sweet
And in Brendan Behan’s footsteps
I danced up and down the street

Then we said goodnight to Broadway
Giving it our best regards
Tipped our hats to Mister Cohan
Dear old Times Square’s favorite bard

Then we raised a glass to JFK
And a dozen more besides
When I got back to my empty room
I suppose I must have cried

Thousands are sailing
Again across the ocean
Where the hand of opportunity
Draws tickets in a lottery
Postcards we’re mailing
Of sky-blue skies and oceans
From rooms the daylight never sees
Where lights don’t glow on Christmas trees
But we dance to the music
And we dance

Thousands are sailing
Across the western ocean
Where the hand of opportunity
Draws tickets in a lottery
Where e’er we go, we celebrate
The land that makes us refugees
From fear of Priests with empty plates
From guilt and weeping effigies
And we dance

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Fairytale of New York

Love me some Pogues any time of the year, but this is their Christmas classic.

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