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Haunted - Shane MacGowan and Sinéad O'Connor / the Pogues for Shane MacGowan and Sinéad O'Connor

After my enforced break, I'm still catching up on last year. 2023 was a tragic for Irish rock, two of their greatest icons passing on, Sinéad O'Connor in July, Shane McGowan four months later in November. So there's an irony in that the only song (as far as I know) that they recorded together was "Haunted" with its refrain

"I wanna be haunted by the ghost....of your precious love....."

The song was originally recorded by the Pogues for the soundtrack of Alex Cox's film "Sid and Nancy" about the tragic, heroin-related deaths of ex-Sex Pistol Sid Vicious and his girl friend Nancy Spungen. Although the song was written by Shane Mac Gowan, the original vocal was sung by the Pogues' bass player Cait O'Riordan alone, with no duet. For the record, Cait also sang lead on the first version of "Fairytale of New York", later more famously sung by Kirsty MacCool.

The more recent version of "Haunted" was also recorded for a movie, the Sandra Bullock vehicle and flop "Two If by Sea", described by Wikipedia as a "romantic comedy", something that could never be said of "Sid and Nancy". The track now has a valedictory feel about it, even though it was recorded nearly thirty years ago, a sense of resignation as though some kind of die has been cast and can't be changed.

While the later version has its moments, not least the tension that O'Connor is able to invest in her quiveringly airy delivery, the reason the original wins out is down to O'Riordan's terrific vocal attack, sultry and angry, as she reminds us that the Pogues were originally, first and foremost, a punk band.


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