Nick Cave Pens Tribute To Shane MacGowan
Cave, who sang The Pogues classic A Rainy Night In Soho at MacGowan’s funeral praised his writing, “What I really envied about Shane’s lyric writing was that he was doing something extraordinary with the classic songwriting form. His way of writing was steeped in the tradition of Irish balladry.
“It was in no way modern, whereas my songs, back then, were more of their time: darker and fractured and experimental. There was little compassion in them. No true understanding of the “ordinary”. I don’t think I could have written a lyric like “The wind goes right through you/ It’s no place for the old” [from Fairytale of New York]. It speaks volumes. You can feel the wind and the ice in the air but also the sense of learned empathy and deep compassion Shane had for people.”
The Bad Seeds frontman went on to praise MacGowan’ stage presence, “I loved his voice, too. It was the perfect vehicle for his chaotic, poetic soul. And I loved the way he comported himself when he was singing live. There was a nonchalance about it. I remember watching the Pogues do a soundcheck somewhere at a festival in France. He just walked up to the mic and sang A Pair of Brown Eyes with his hands shoved in his pockets, this gorgeous, racked voice coming out of him like he was a cypher for the angels. It was a rare privilege to witness something like that.”
Cave’s tribute went on, “At the end of the day, though, it is his genius we should remember rather than all the other stuff. He wrote a bunch of songs that are truly great. That’s a hell of a lot more than most songwriters manage. His best lyrics have a truly lived-in nature to them. His beautiful soul is baked in to every word, every phrase of A Rainy Night in Soho or The Old Main Drag. They are rooted in earned experience. Those profoundly beautiful words coming out of such a broken soul. He had something that we lesser writers have to work hard to even get close to. An effortless, God-given talent”