Written by a key member of the Pogues whose music was described as “a furious, pioneering mix of punk energy, traditional melodies and the powerfully poetic songwriting of Shane MacGowan”, this is not your traditional “sex and drugs and rock ‘n’roll” book about life on the road. It’s a serious and reflective memoir about “sex and drink (lots and lots of it) and rock ‘n’ roll”.
With few photos to enliven what is frequently a bleak story of loneliness, anger and resentment, the band comes across as a multi-talented family of musicians, led inexorably by MacGowan down the road to perdition.
Despite their closeness, the genuine affection many of them felt for each other and the huge and continuing commercial success of the Christmas song, ‘Fairytale of New York’, the band parted ways when it was apparent that, as a result of his excesses, their (grudging) lead singer was no longer able to function and the others had lost their desire to spend long periods away from their families, for little reward. Friendship and music was no longer enough.
Calcimine, zoetropic, ineluctably. Meadowseet crowded the dry stone walls, Greenfinches danced over the hedges. Not really words you expect to find in a rock memoir, but James Fearnley is a gifted writer who always wanted to be a rock musician. I admit I read the book because I love the Pogues’ music; having read it I hope he continues to write, not just memoirs, but novels, maybe poetry – readers will have a lot to look forward to.
Verdict: Despite the doom and gloom that is the Pogues history, this was a fascinating and moving book. More please. ***** [Very strong language]