The Pogues, date and photographer unknown

The Pogues, date and photographer unknown

Tom Waits writes about his 20 most cherished albums in an article in The Guardian. Here is his passage about Rum, Sodomy & the Lash:

Sometimes when things are real flat, you want to hear something flat, other times you just want to project onto it, something more like…. you might want to hear the Pogues. Because they love the West. They love all those old movies. The thing about Ireland, the idea that you can get into a car and point it towards California and drive it for the next five days is like Euphoria, because in Ireland you just keep going around in circles, those tiny little roads. ‘Dirty Old Town’, ‘The Old Main Drag’. Shane has the gift. I believe him. He knows how to tell a story. They are a roaring, stumbling band. These are the dead end kids for real. Shane’s voice conveys so much. They play like soldiers on leave. The songs are epic. It’s whimsical and blasphemous, seasick and sacrilegious, wear it out and then get another one.

– Tom Waits

Tom Waits. Portobello Road, London 1976 © Michael Putland

Tom Waits. Portobello Road, London 1976 © Michael Putland

A remastered and expanded version of Rum, Sodomy & the Lash was released in 2005 and featured a poem by Tom Waits.

Their music is like
the brandy of the damned
Pogue Mahone
they are the last
pure hearts
from Dickens , Joyce,Dylan Thomas
to Christy Moore
like Red Diamonds
Pirates full of malarkey
they’re little giants
they’re Bill Sykes
They are all orphans
and they are leaving
on the 2:10 train
with no ticket
Rapscallion, angry, weeping
passed out songs,songs
that seem to be born
effortlessly, or
not born but found
on top of an old wood stove
like a Bowler hat
and the Pogues know
where the little people go
and they follow them
they’re as old as treasure island
songs that we should all carry
i learnt ’em and sung ’em
and changed ’em
and passed them on
down the wild blue road
as Shane MacGowan & the Pogues
warm their hands
on a fire
made from chopsticks
and a horse pulls a milk wagon
up the steep, wet cobblestone
streets & stumbles
to his knees, bloodying them
as a man
no bigger than my thumb
dances in the broken glass
and jumps rope with a shoe lace
the song he sings

Tom Waits
California , March 2004

It is one of my favorite albums, a sequence of songs that would cause us all to link arms and belt out the lyrics, spilling beer everywhere. You should probably buy it now.

The Pogues, date and photographer unknown

The Pogues, date and photographer unknown