Friday, 27 July 2007

The Pogues>Summer in Siam

The Pogues have written some fantastic songs, not least 'Summer in Siam' from the album Hell's Ditch (1990). How they managed quite such an impressive output with the chaotic Shane MacGowan at the helm is to their credit. Like many creative individuals, staying on the straight and narrow is rarely a prerequisite for producing quality art. You have to question, though, how can someone who looks... well, so rough... produce such a great version of 'And the Band Played Waltzin' Matilda'?

The irony of a now religiously-convinced teetotaller discovering this beautiful song on the occasion of his first legal pint of lager, wouldn't be lost on MacGowan who was brought up a strict Catholic before adopting a hedonist lifestyle. I must confess I was already a Pogues fan, so I didn't go through any conversion process that night in the Munro pub in Villars, Switzerland on my 17 birthday (drinking limits are earlier in Europe). What stood out, however, was the way the whole pub went quiet when 'Summer in Siam' came on the juke box (how on earth it got on the playlist I'll never know). Admittedly it was complete 'euro-drivel' that normally blared out from the speakers, but there's just something about that song that transports you into a heavenly world.

Ask MacGowan and this is all he can come up with about it: ' I write simple songs that people can sing along to. Like, there's no point explaining what 'Summer In Siam' is about...' Shane rolls his eyes skywards in exasperation, '... because the bloody thing's about what it says it's about.' Hmmmm! Not that helpful - but who cares what it is really about, it's a fantastic song and when I hear it 'Then all I really know Is that I truly am.'

PS If you can work out the lyrics from the song then you're more attuned to the singing of a drunken man that I am. Easier just to check here...

1 comment:

Nick Coke said...

On holiday in the Lakes we met a busker who claimed to be an ex-member of The Pogues. We doubted his sincerity until he played us a song - boy could he play and sing! Best busker I've ever met. We checked out old photos of the Pogues later and there was a guitarist who looked suspiciously like him. Who knows...?