The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #153916   Message #3608564
Posted By: Phil Edwards
09-Mar-14 - 07:00 PM
Thread Name: Pogues as gateway drug
Subject: RE: Pogues as gateway drug
I got into Steeleye Span in the early 1970s, closely followed by Pentangle; I might have turned into a folkie way back then if it hadn't been for the rival attractions of prog rock and, especially, punk. The angst and originality of punk blotted out any appeal that heartbroken milkmaids might have had, at least for the time being.

The real turning point, for me, came much later - in my 40s. My mother had a stroke when she was 84 and died a few months afterwards; she spent most of that time in a home, reasonably able-bodied but rather confused. We tried to make things nice for her in the home, surrounding her with things that she might like or that might recall her old life to her. When she died I was halfway through 'ripping' her copy of Shirley Collins' LP _Amaranth_, which I was intending to put on a CD so that she could listen to it in her room. I finished doing it before I realised that there wasn't much point any more.

I was rather seriously depressed for some time afterwards, and one of the effects was that I couldn't listen to music any more - except folk. Specifically, English traditional songs. More specifically, Shirley Collins. There must have been a good six months in which the music of Shirley Collins was the only music in which I could take clean, relaxed, uncomplicated pleasure - at a time when clean, relaxed, uncomplicated pleasure was a very rare thing in my life.

I'm not going to say that Shirley Collins saved my life, but her singing was very valuable to me in a very dark time. And some of the magic I heard in that music then is still there now; more to the point, I've been able to find some of the same quality in other artists: June Tabor, John Kelly, Peter Bellamy, Tony Rose, the Young 'Uns... And the journey goes on.

I guess I'd say it doesn't matter what pitches you up on the doorstep of folk, whether it's Steeleye or the Pogues or the Levellers or James Yorkston or Dylan or the Animals; it's all good.