Christmas, Light and Dark

An assortment of Christmas songs I have recently listened to and enjoyed. Some light, some heavy, all festive.

The Pogues feat. Kirsty MacColl, Fairytale of New York – In honor of its 25th birthday this week, and because it is a holiday song I listen to year ’round.

August Burns Red, Carol of the Bells– There’s very little I like better than heavy metal Christmas carols. Unless it’s hardcore Christmas carols where the band gives the drummer free reign. This is my #1 favorite rendition of this song. It’s heavy and orchestral and amazing.

Six Shooter, Carol of the Bells – Be sure to watch this one before you hit the egg-nog. I’m not sure I would have filmed it quite the same way, but I’ll forgive a lot because there are heavily tattooed dudes in black Santa hats shredding, and Santa himself sitting in with the band.

The Lost Brothers with Bill Ryder-Jones, St. Christopher – This one is both dark and light, sweet and melancholy at the same time. It’s available for sale … Continue reading

Strummer Week: The Pogues


We continue our week-long Joe Strummer tribute, leading up to the 10-year anniversary of his death on December 22, with a bit about the Pogues. The lives of the Pogues weaved around Joe’s for a number of years, beginning before the Pogues even existed. In the late ’70s, young Shane MacGowan was a visible fixture on the London punk scene, but more as a fan than as a music maker. The first known intersection in the lives of Joe and Shane came on October 23, 1976, at the Clash’s first headlining gig in London at the ICA on the Mall. Part of the reason the date is so memorable involves Shane.


Cannibalism at Clash Gig - news clip featuring young Shane MacGowan


Yes, you recognize him: that young man in the pinstriped jacket, with blood later streaming down the side of his head is the same person who would later go on to pen literary and poignant tunes like “Fairytale of New York” and “A Pair of Brown Eyes”.

A true punk, Shane wouldn’t let a little … Continue reading

Saturday Matinee: If I Should Fall from Grace: The Shane MacGowan Story


This documentary about the lead singer of Irish-by-way-of-London band the Pogues paints a complex, heartrending, and ultimately frustrating portrait of an artist who could still be contributing so much to music if he could just get his shit together. But it’s never as easy as that, is it?


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Postcards from the Pit: The Pogues

The Pogues’ last tour, which I caught as they rolled through New York during St. Patrick’s Day (really St. Patrick’s Week, or Month), was titled “A Parting Glass” and meant to be the last one. For a lot of reasons, I hope that’s not actually true. Not least because St. Patrick’s Day in New York will not ever be the same without them. These shots are actually from March 16, the second night of a three day run at T5.

I didn’t stay in the pit very long, a combination of it being a school night and the pit being a little bit rough. I actually did the most dancing of the evening once I had retreated upstairs to the couches near the bar, where I twirled through a couple of measures of Dirty Old Town with a stranger. Though if this was their last go-round, I’ll hoard that memory as a fine send-off.


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The Ghost of Ronnie Drew

That’s right, I’m going to do an Irish music post for St. Patrick’s Day. Bite me.

I’ve always loved traditional Irish music, and my favorite voice in that genre, by far, is that of Ronnie Drew. If you know this classic performance of “The Irish Rover” by the Pogues and the Dubliners, you know Ronnie Drew. He’s the handsome, white-haired gentleman who takes the first verse. (Please excuse the advertisement at the beginning.)

The Pogues & Dubliners – The Irish Rover by Renaud_lyon



Drew’s deep gravel was sublime on its own, but as a part of the Dubliners (who were originally known as the Ronnie Drew Ballad Group when they formed in 1962), his voice was a beautiful complement to the tenors of Luke Kelly and Ciarán Bourke, as can be heard in the chorus of “The Rocky Road to Dublin”, one of my all-time favorite songs.



Another example of how fine Drew’s voice was in harmony can be found in this lovely Gaelic tune, “Óró Sé do Bheatha Bhaile”, which translates to “Oh-ro, You’re Welcome Home”.



In January of 2008, U2, the Dubliners, Kíla and … Continue reading