MacGowan gets pirate Depp for shanty single
Pogues leader and renowned hellraiser Shane MacGowan has teamed up with heart-throb actor Johnny Depp to release a new single.
They have recorded the ballad The Leaving Of Liverpool, which was first heard on a ship bound for America way back in 1885. Since then, it has been adapted several times by sailors and non-sailors alike – including Bob Dylan, The Dubliners, The Clancy Brothers and The Pogues themselves.
Now, 127 years after its debut, it is the first single off legendary producer Hal Wilner's upcoming album Son Of Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys – a follow-up to his 2006 compilation Rogue's Gallery.
Wilner was inspired to create these maritime anthologies while on the set of the hit movie Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, with Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski.
Depp has long been a fan of MacGowan's music, often attending Pogues concerts and meeting up with him whenever possible.
He even joined MacGowan and others with his guitar to record a version of the old Screaming Jay Hawkins' number I Put A Spell On You, a charity single to help the people of Haiti following the devastating earthquake there.
Depp also co-starred in the video for MacGowan's That Woman's Got Me Drinking.
The new album features contributions from musicians such as Keith Richards, Tom Waits, Sean Lennon, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop and Nick Cave. It will be released here in February.
But MacGowan, who will celebrate his 55th birthday on Christmas Day, has no illusions about The Leaving Of Liverpool being a Christmas number one. He firmly believes the old Pogues' classic Fairytale Of New York will finally have that honour after a quarter of a century.
To mark its 25th anniversary, the single has been re-released and many believe that it could now finally top the charts and claim its place as the best-ever Christmas song.
Back in 1987, the song, which features the late Kirsty MacColl, only managed to reach number two in the charts. Pet Shop Boys kept it off the top with their version of Always On My Mind.
The song was recently voted the third-best festive hit by the readers of Time Out magazine in London.
According to MacGowan, Elvis Costello, who had been producing the band, made a wager with him that he couldn't write a Christmas duet to sing with the band's then bassist Cait O'Riordan, who later became Costello's wife.
She recorded a guide vocal of it but then left the band and her part was given to Kirsty MacColl.