Elephant Man Broke Strong Man's Necks
January 26, 2010 2:41 AM   Subscribe

"Jimmy didn't like his place, in this world of ours, where the Elephant man broke strong man's necks and he had too many powers."

From Shane MacGowan's lyrics to the song Sally Maclelanne circa 1985. What does he mean by this?
posted by three blind mice to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
http://www.poguetry.com/rsl.htm:

In A Drink with Shane MacGowan (2001, Grove Press, ISBN 0-821-3790-3, p. 42), Shane relates the following: "The Elephant man in that song was a real bloke, who used to come in the pub in Dagenham [Shane's Uncle's place, where he worked for a while] and he was a huge bloke and he used to get into terrible fights and he'd crunch people and one night he got into a fight with another huge bastard and he won the fight, but he got a broken neck in the process. And he went around with a cast around his neck for the next six months, which is why they called him the elephant man. The elephant man broke strong men's necks when he's has too many Powers. Powers whiskey obviously."
posted by Bodd at 2:47 AM on January 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


From the ace http://www.poguetry.com/

In A Drink with Shane MacGowan Shane relates the following: "The Elephant man in that song was a real bloke, who used to come in the pub in Dagenham [Shane's Uncle's place, where he worked for a while] and he was a huge bloke and he used to get into terrible fights and he'd crunch people and one night he got into a fight with another huge bastard and he won the fight, but he got a broken neck in the process. And he went around with a cast around his neck for the next six months, which is why they called him the elephant man. The elephant man broke strong men's necks when he's has too many Powers. Powers whiskey obviously." .... In the lyric booklet accompanying the cd, the line is rendered as above (i.e., as "powers"), but in the "Poguetry" collection of lyrics (Faber & Faber, ISBN 0-571-14198-6) it is "Powers." As we see in the above quote from Shane, the book version is probably the correct one as "Powers" no doubt refers to John Powers Irish Whisky rather than to any supernatural gifts of the elephant man.
posted by runincircles at 2:49 AM on January 26, 2010


pipped to the post!
posted by runincircles at 2:51 AM on January 26, 2010


Awesome Bodd. Thanks. You've corrected me on the lyrics as well. Wondering how I will rephrase this for my 3 year old who loves the song...
posted by three blind mice at 2:55 AM on January 26, 2010


I've always loved Sally Maclennane - one of the 'cheeriest' songs musically, with one of the saddest stories - guy decides to make a better life, goes away, everyone he knows dies, he drinks himself to death... Gotta love Shane.
posted by pupdog at 3:01 AM on January 26, 2010


My favorite Pogues song. The live track on the English (European?) 1991 album "The Best of the Pogues" was my favorite. Unfortunately, I lost the CD. Does anyone know if that live version is on another album that is available?
posted by batou_ at 6:20 AM on January 26, 2010


Does anyone know if that live version is on another album that is available?

Not sure of the exact version on Best of, but the Pogues box set Just Look Them Straight in the Eye and Say...Pogue Mahone has two live Sally MacLennane versions:

Sally Maclennane
(BBC John Peel Show, December 4, 1984, previously unreleased)

Sally Maclennane
(live at Barrowlands, Glasgow, 17/19 December, 1987)

While this set does include some regrettable post-Shane content, I've enjoyed it for the demos and previously unreleased tracks.
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:09 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


"The Best of the Pogues" CD has been discontinued, but it's still available (new and used) from Amazon. Better yet, you can purchase and download the whole CD as mp3 files for $10 or just the track you want for $1. Just thought you might like to know.
posted by exphysicist345 at 8:05 PM on January 26, 2010


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