The Pogues: “A Pair of Brown Eyes”
Well, finally, I’m back in the States, home again! Four weeks in Ireland gave us plenty of opportunity to tour the countryside, as well as the cities (Dublin is excellent), but it was also long enough to make us really yearn to return home. So goodbye Ireland — it was great to meet you, but we must be on our way!
And now that I’m home, I intend to get this blog back onto its usual, more regular schedule as soon as possible. However, that may not be back to 5 days per week just yet, given that my sons are home for the summer, as is my wife Elisabeth, who as I may have mentioned elsewhere is a high school librarian/teacher. So my “free” time is not necessarily completely my own, which is certainly fine on the one hand, but not so good if you’re a blog named Reselect.com, who will find itself still a bit short-changed on the time front over the remaining weeks of August. Nonetheless, you should expect no fewer than 3 posts per week, in case you need to plan ahead and write that into your daily schedule. Ha.
So today’s post. It’s a final farewell to Ireland — as in “So long, and thanks for all the Guinness!” And what singer knows Guinness better (actually, he probably goes for the harder stuff) than Shane MacGowan of the Pogues. Voted in my mind many years ago as the music “star” most likely to drink himself to death, Shane of the Disgusting Teeth (seriously, Google “Shane MacGowan teeth” and prepare yourself to be grossed out) has somehow managed not to keel over stone cold yet. I don’t know how many brain cells he has remaining, but however many there may be, I suspect they’re mainly there to keep a few snippets of lyrics at hand so he can belt out a few lines when necessary.
Honestly, though, I love Shane MacGowan, for his early years with the Pogues, when they released a handful of what can only be described as the greatest traditional-Irish/punk blends ever put down on record. Blending the energy of punk with Irish ballads and drinking songs, their 1985 album Rum Sodomy & the Lash — their second album but the first to gain them widespread attention — is a thing of grimy beauty, produced perfectly by Elvis Costello. MacGowan proved himself a great songwriter-in-the-making, not quite masking his poeticism and romanticism behind his alcoholic voice. There are very few rock bands that have ever sounded more truly Irish than the Pogues (oddly enough, though, they were formed in and based themselves out of London), and “A Pair of Brown Eyes” is one of their crowning achievements. It captures everything that made them great. And feels like a great way to bid a fond adieu to a great country…