Crock of Gold – A Few Rounds With Shane MacGowan, singer with The Pogues
CROCK OF GOLD – A FEW ROUNDS WITH SHANE MACGOWAN deep dives into the life of the tortured Irish vocalist, best known as the lead singer and songwriter of the Pogues, who famously combined traditional Irish music with the visceral energy of punk rock. Featuring unseen archival footage from the band and MacGowan’s family, as well as animation from legendary illustrator Ralph Steadman, Julien Temple’s rollicking love letter spotlights the iconic frontman up to his 60th birthday celebration, where singers, movie stars and rock ’n’ roll outlaws gather to celebrate the man and his legacy.
This is the story of a man on the fringe of society. As an outcast from a young age, Shane MacGowan had no intentions of achieving the fame he did as lead singer of Irish folklore/punk band, The Pogues. Brought up in the working class town of Tipperary, MacGowan held several blue collar type jobs, before his family relocated to London. He admits he began drinking beer when he was a child, and had his first whiskey as an early teenager. He also got involved with a variety of drugs, which resulted in a heroine addition. Add this to his bouts of depression, and a period of living on the streets working as a rent-boy, and you have a man ripe for story writing.
He was admitted to mental institutions on more than one occasion, and upon being released the first time, he ended up going to see a punk rock show with the Sex Pistols. It was then that he said, if they can do it, so can I. This resulted in the formation of his first band, The Nips, which would eventually morph into The Pogues. The original name was Pogues Mahone, which translates to “kiss my arse”, so the concept of taking himself seriously right from the get go, was not something he aspired to. He was in it for the fun of playing music, the girls, and the booze and drugs – a true rock n roll lifestyle.
Unfortunately, as what happens with many musicians, the direction his path in a musical career would take was much different that what he imagined, or wanted. Managers and record labels soon dictate all that you do, and with a few hit songs under their belt, including the hugely popular Fairytale of New York, The Pogues were soon internationally known and touring worldwide. He said they once played over 300 shows one year, so naturally exhaustion, boredom, and loneliness set in. As his addictions continued to grow, the band decided it was time to have an intervention and suggest he leave, which he was more than willing to do.
Taking a couple years off to just enjoy life, he eventually created a new group called, The Popes, which he retained full control over. Today he’s getting around in a wheelchair, due to breaking his pelvis after a fall back in 2015. His speech is slow and slurred, and he still smokes and drinks heavily, rarely seen without one or the other throughout the film. Most importantly though, he still has his punk attitude, and does plan to return to writing and performing once again in the future.
Great film, about a man, his music, and his madness!
Directed by Julien Temple
Produced by Julien Temple, Johnny Depp, Stephen Deuters and Stephen Malit
Available from Mongrel Media as of December 4th.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.