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Nick Cave shares fresh tribute to Shane MacGowan: ‘He had a goodness and a depth of feeling’

'There was a truth to him, a clarity of soul that was of the purest kind. You can’t hide something like that'

By Nick Reilly

Nick Cave at Roskilde Festival, Denmark, 2018
(Photo: Henry W. Laurisch/Wikimedia Commons)

Nick Cave has shared a fresh tribute to his friend Shane MacGowan, who passed away in November.

Writing in The Guardian, Cave explained how they met at a “summit meeting” between the pair and The Fall’s Mark E.Smith for an NME cover story in the late 1980s.

“Unfortunately, it was my first day out of rehab, and it probably wasn’t the greatest idea to spend the day with two people who were not known for their moderation,” said Nick.

“It was pure mayhem from the outset. Not the most auspicious start to a friendship, but Shane and I did become close friends soon afterwards.”

“What I really envied about Shane’s lyric writing was that he was doing something extraordinary with the classic songwriting form,” Cave went on.

“His way of writing was steeped in the tradition of Irish balladry. It was in no way modern, whereas my songs, back then, were more of their time: darker and fractured and experimental. There was little compassion in them. No true understanding of the ‘ordinary.’ I don’t think I could have written a lyric like ‘The wind goes right through you/ It’s no place for the old’ [from Fairytale of New York]. It speaks volumes. You can feel the wind and the ice in the air but also the sense of learned empathy and deep compassion Shane had for people.”

He concluded: “Shane was not like other people. Regardless of what condition he was in, he had a goodness about him and a depth of feeling about the poetic nature of our human condition that was immeasurable. There was a truth to him, a clarity of soul that was of the purest kind. You can’t hide something like that.”

Cave also recently delivered an emotional rendition of The Pogues’ ‘Rainy Night In Soho’ at MacGowan’s funeral.