Issue #263 / December 2023

[ ] As we all mourn Shane, would you share your memories of his 60th birthday in Dublin or otherwise.


Shane and Sinéad both in one year. Just such a loss. Nothing else to say.


Dear Toby and William,

I remember standing side of stage at the concert in Dublin for Shanes 60th birthday, and feeling kind of agitated and nervous about performing. I was surrounded by all of these artists doing beautiful versions of Shanes songs and, I dont know, I guess I was also feeling a bit out of sorts that evening. I saw Sinéad OConnor standing slightly separate from everyone else, half hidden by the curtain, gazing at the floor, looking fierce and intense. I didnt really know  Sinéad, Id met her a few times here and there, and maybe chatted briefly with her, but I had always liked her uniqueness, her raging spirit, her disagreeableness, her beautifulness and, of course, her celestial voice. Sinéad looked up and caught my eye, smiled, and walked over and hugged me. I’m not sure why, but I was terribly moved by her gesture. She was so warm and giving and kind in that moment. I was unaware quite how precious a moment it would turn out to be. Before I could say anything to her, I was being ushered on to the stage to sing Shane’s song, Summer in Siam’, with him. I think it was the penultimate song of the show, and it would be the first time that evening that Shane himself would take to the stage to perform. I walked on and sang these most simple and poignant words –


When it’s summer in Siam

And the moon is full of rainbows

When it’s summer in Siam

Though we go through many changes

When it’s summer in Siam

Then all I really know is that I truly am

In the summer in Siam


Shane’s wife, Victoria, then pushed Shane on in a wheelchair and, well, I know I should be talking about the pure unbridled genius of Shane MacGowan and how he was the greatest songwriter of his generation, with the most terrifyingly beautiful of voices — all of which is true — but what struck me at that moment was the extraordinary display of love for this man, so powerful and deep, that poured forth from the audience. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and in that instant it brought to mind the short poem by Raymond Carver —


And did you get what

you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself

beloved on the earth.


Shane was not revered just for his manifold talents but also loved for himself alone. A beautiful and damaged man, who embodied a kind of purity and innocence and generosity and spiritual intelligence unlike any other.

Sinéad once said of Shane, He is an angel. An actual angel. Whether or not this is the case, whos to say? But Shane was blessed with an uncommon spirit of goodness and a deep sense of what is true, which was strangely amplified in his brokenness, his humanness. We can say of him most certainly, he was beloved on the earth,’ and Sinéad too — truly beloved and greatly missed, both.

Love, Nick


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