Shane MacGowan Smiles in Death’s Face

“I am going to live to a very old age”

A grieving Irishman needs to talk like he needs to breathe. Perhaps that’s why Shane MacGowan decided to pick up the ringing phone at 11 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, just eight hours after arriving at a New York hotel from his home in Tipperary, Ireland.

Perhaps it was easier for him to express to a stranger from Denver feelings of loss and mortality that those closest to him say he hasn’t even shared with loved ones.

MacGowan, the 43-year-old former frontman of The Pogues, has been tossed by the accidental death in December of beloved British singer Kirsty MacColl, with whom he immortalized the 1987 classic, “Fairytale of New York.”

“Her death, that was a complete and utter shock,” MacGowan said. “That really blew my head.”

The words may alarm anyone who is aware MacGowan’s head has been blown plenty through the years. He is known as much for his voracious appetite for alcohol and drugs as he is for being the mastermind behind the Pogues, a seminal band that immersed punk within traditional Irish music. His excesses made it not only predictable but expected that Shane would one day, as they say in Ireland, pop his clogs.

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