Pogues' Rum, Sodomy and the Lash by Roesgen Jeffrey T

Pogues' Rum, Sodomy and the Lash by Roesgen Jeffrey T

Author:Roesgen, Jeffrey T.
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Continuum International Publishing
Published: 2008-04-14T16:00:00+00:00

“Sally MacLennane”

I go, without the heart to go,

To kindred that I hardly know.

Drink, neighbour, drink a health with me—

“Farewell to barn and stack and tree.”

Five hours will see me stowed aboard,

The gangplank up, the ship unmoored.

Christ grant no tempest shakes the sea—

“Farewell to barn and stack and tree.”

—Joseph Campbell, “The Emigrant” (Inishry 1913 from The Oxford Book of Ireland)

Some are convinced the Irish are not serious about anything other than saying goodbye. Death is accepted, so is battle, the loss of spouse, even the dying of children. Tragedy seems indigenous to the land. It was always a puzzle to the English that in the midst of grief, in the midst or carnage, the Irish could leap to his feet and give vent to a full-throated song, or an intricate story, even ones with comic overtones.

—Malachy McCourt, Danny Boy

The Pogues could never have been an Irish band indigenously…. It’s like there’s two Irelands, the people who went away or are second generation and very often that gives a different point of view on the culture on what it is to be Irish.—Philip Chevron, If I Should Fall from Grace

There has always been a parallel Ireland. A world outside of Ireland that is always Irish. An alternative Ireland. This is a world inhabited by those whom Ireland has failed…. Mostly they had no work or they had ambitions beyond those articulated nightly in the rooms of forgetting, the sensation dulling, world erasing bars whose grand dreams evaporated nightly with the clang of the closing time shutters.—Bob Geldof, liner notes, Waiting for Herb reissue

Songs everywhere. They convey the gamut of human emotion and unify communities, if not nations. Songs have long been a vehicle of communication and celebration for Irish culture, whether it’s singular unaccompanied Sean Nos or the rhythm and melodies of full ensembles. Of the six original lyrical songs on Rum, Sodomy & the Lash, five of them mention singing: In “The Sickbed of Cuchulainn,” John MacCormick and Richard Tauber serenade a dying man who later, in a delirious state, hears drunken men singing “Billy’s in the bowl.” In “A Pair of Brown Eyes” Johnny Cash’s “A Thing Called Love” plays on the jukebox and accompanies the lovelorn thoughts of a young man; his thoughts are made even more poignant by Ray and Philomena’s songs. “Navigator” (written for the Pogues by their friend Phil Gaston) mentions the work camp songs of the navvys (rail workers). Billy, of “Billy’s Bones,” is singing when he’s killed on the Lebanon line. And when Jimmy leaves his home in “Sally MacLennane,” his family and friends offer songs of farewell to him.

Musically, “Sally MacLennane” presents itself as a pub-room romp: single strike drum rolls, festive accordion, hollers of “Far away.” With the tin whistle, Spider harmonizes note for note with Shane’s vocals (something they also employ to a melancholy effect on “A Pair of Brown Eyes,” “Dirty Old Town,” and the second verse of “I’m a Man You Don’t Meet Every Day”).

“Sally MacLennane,” the name of a stout, is inspired by Shane’s uncle Frank’s pub.


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