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30th Nov 2023

Shane MacGowan has died at the age of 65

Joseph Loftus

‘I could’ve been someone, well so could anyone’

One of the greatest minds in songwriting history, Shane MacGowan, has sadly died at the age of 65.

The news of MacGowan’s death, who was perhaps best known for his 1988 song, Fairytale of New York, emerged just moments ago.

His death was confirmed in a statement shared by his wife, Victoria, which read: “I don’t know how to say this so I am just going to say it.

“Shane who will always be the light that I hold before me and the measure of my dreams and the love of my life and the most beautiful soul and beautiful angel and the sun and the moon and the start and end of everything that I hold dear has gone to be with Jesus and Mary and his beautiful mother Therese.

“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 and to have had so many years of life and love and joy and fun and laughter and so many adventures.”

The statement continued: “There’s no way to describe the loss that I am feeling and the longing for just one more of his smiles that lit up my world.

“Thank you thank you thank you thank you for your presence in this world you made it so very bright and you gave so much joy to so many people with your heart and soul and your music.

“You will live in my heart forever. Rave on in the garden all wet with rain that you loved so much. You meant the world to me.”

Despite his rich Irish identity, MacGowan was actually born in Kent, England, on Christmas Day 1957 to Irish emigrants.

His mother, who had in her early life been a singer, traditional Irish dancer, and a model, worked as a typist, while his father worked in the offices of a department store.

MacGowan lived across much of the south of England in his early years and performed well in his studies, even receiving a scholarship for Westminster School at the age of 14, until this was revoked when he was found in possession of drugs and expelled in his second year thus igniting what would become a life of rebellion.

MacGowan, who said he very rarely “took a sober breath” since the age of 14, then began to make a name for himself in the music scene where he was first publicly noted after being photographed at a Clash gig with part of his earlobe bitten off leaving him covered in blood.

The photograph was shared in local newspapers beneath the headline: “Cannibalism at Clash Gig”.

Soon after, MacGowan went onto join the punk band The Nipple Erectors, alongside Shanne Bradley, Gavin Douglas, and Mark Harrison.

Inspired by the likes of The Stooges, The Jam, and the Sex Pistols, The Nipple Erectors were moderately successful, though it was in his next band, The Pogues, that MacGowan became a household name across the globe.

Immensely inspired by the great Irish writers Brendan Behan, James Joyce, Flann O’Brien, Patrick Kavanagh, and many, many others, MacGowan was able to draw on these influences while also forming his own unique lyrical voice.

His songs dwelled on topics such as emigration, poverty, alcoholism, despair, love, and almost every other human emotion and experience one can imagine. MacGowan truly managed to capture the torture of the human condition (or at least, his human condition), through the power of his own tormented words.

While frequently too intoxicated to speak fluently in front of cameras, in the darkness of his room, MacGowan penned such songs as A Rainy Night in Soho, Summer In Siam, A Pair of Brown Eyes, Streams of Whiskey, The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn, Sally MacLennane, and so so many more.

His drunken eyes and vulgar tongue cultivated the television personality of MacGowan, but it was in his songs that he showcased a completely other side to his anatomy as a rich poet, and as a man who will no doubt go down in the echelons of history as one of the greatest songwriters of all time.

Known not only for his alcoholism and life of chain-smoking, but also problems with just about every drug under the sun, MacGowan had long been expected to die in his 20s, his 30s, his 40s, and his 50s, however Shane vowed that he wanted to live long enough to see off all those who predicted his death years before.

Sadly, nobody can remain physically mortal forever, and after a lengthy hospital stay, Shane MacGowan died peacefully earlier today.

One thing that remains certain however, is that he will, remain immortal through his vast catalogue of songs forever.

Rest in peace Shane MacGowan.

Sometimes I’d wake up in the morning
The ginger lady by my bed
Covered in a cloak of silence
I’d hear you talking in my head

I’m not singing for the future
I’m not dreaming of the past
I’m not talking of the first times
I never think about the last

Now the song is nearly over
We may never find out what it means
Still there’s a light I hold before me
You’re the measure of my dreams
The measure of my dreams