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Nick Cave Pens Farewell Tribute to Shane MacGowan: 'There Was a Truth to Him, a Clarity of Soul That Was of the Purest Kind.'

The pair first met in 1989, by which point Cave was already 'completely in awe of Shane’s songwriting.'

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Source: MEGA

Nick Cave and Shane MacGowan: "It was pure mayhem from the outset...but [we] did become close friends soon afterwards."

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The friendship between Nick Cave and Shane MacGowan is one that came up repeatedly in the various reminiscences and farewells written about the late Pogues singer, but today Cave – who performed “A Rainy Night in Soho” during MacGowan’s funeral – took to The Guardian to pen his own farewell to his longtime friend.

The pair first crossed paths in 1989, when New Musical Express decided to hold a “summit meeting” between Cave, MacGowan, and Mark E. Smith, the late frontman for the Fall.

“I was excited because I was a fan, completely in awe of Shane’s songwriting,” wrote Cave. “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. It was pure mayhem from the outset. Not the most auspicious start to a friendship...”

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Source: Mute / BMG

The cover art for the 1992 Nick Cave / Shane MacGowan single, "What a Wonderful World"

Indeed, even though they started hanging out a bit after that initial encounter, it took some time for Cave and MacGowan to truly bond, owing to the fact that Cave was off drugs and drink.

“I don’t think he was used to being around someone who didn’t drink,” wrote Cave. “He essentially didn’t trust anyone who wasn’t completely sh*t-faced."

Eventually, however, Cave started to drink again, and for better or worse, that’s when the twosome truly bonded...or as Cave put it, “I ordered a double vodka and his eyes just lit up. It was like he was a little kid and it was Christmas Day. And that was that. We spent the next years going out, f***ing around, getting wasted.”

MacGowan and Cave collaborated on a cover of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" in 1992, with MacGowan also contributing to Cave's 1996 album Murder Ballads.

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But as you might expect, or at least hope, Cave's recollections about MacGowan aren't solely limited to the occasions when they were imbibing in each other's presence. The piece provides a very sweet look into the relationship between the two songwriters, including details about MacGowan's flat, his methodology as a songwriter, and the reasons why Cave came to love his mate's way with words, both as a poet and as a performer.

That said, he also acknowledged MacGowan's flaws, including the toll that his "solemn duty to be permanently f***ed up" took on his gifts, admitting, "It was sad to see Shane lose his extraordinary gifts and become so diminished over time, but that doesn’t stop you loving someone. At the end of the day...it is his genius we should remember rather than all the other stuff.

"There was a truth to him, a clarity of soul that was of the purest kind," concluded Cave. "You can’t hide something like that. The whole world could see it, which is why he was so deeply loved by so many."

MacGowan died on Nov. 30 at the age of 65. You can read Cave's piece in its entirety by clicking right here.


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