Nick Cave has written a eulogy in The Guardian for his longtime friend Shane MacGowan, who died last month at the age of 65. Cave first met the Pogues frontman in 1989, when NME called a “summit meeting” of the two artists along with the Fall’s Mark E Smith. “I was excited because I was a fan, completely in awe of Shane’s songwriting,” Cave writes in The Guardian.
Cave goes on to discuss the ensuing years when he and MacGowan grew closer and he reveled in his friend’s natural talent for songwriting. “To me, his songs were such precious things, deep works of art, really, but he didn’t treat them like that,” Cave writes. “While I laboured away at my desk, day after day, to produce what I could, Shane’s words were delivered to him on a beer tray with a whiskey chaser.”
“I loved his voice, too. It was the perfect vehicle for his chaotic, poetic soul,” Cave added, remembering a time he watched the Pogues soundchecking at a festival in France: “He just walked up to the mic and sang A Pair of Brown Eyes with his hands shoved in his pockets, this gorgeous, racked voice coming out of him like he was a cypher for the angels.” Cave added that, while he was first a fan of MacGowan’s unparalleled talent, it was his “great love for the man himself” at the heart of their enduring friendship.
Following the news of his death, countless artists paid tribute to MacGowan, including Billy Bragg, Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen, and many others. Cave wrote about MacGowan’s kindness and musical brilliance in an installment of The Red Hand Files, and performed a cover of the Pogues’ 1986 ballad “A Rainy Night in Soho” at the musician’s funeral.
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