Sunday Song: “Turkish Song of the Damned,” The Pogues

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The Pogues were(?)/are(?) an Irish punk/folk/rock band led by a hard-drinking heroin user who was eventually kicked out the band (and then brought back, as I recall). Hell’s Ditch (1990; produced by Joe Strummer) adds to this mix a pan-Asian influence in both sound and lyrics about hanging out on Pattaya Beach and a star-crossed love affair in Nepal.

This song is not about Turkey. The Pogues were making songs about pirate curses when Johnny Depp was still fighting crime on Jump Street.

The Pogues, “Turkish Song of the Damned” via last.fm

I come old friend from hell tonight
across the rotting sea
not the nails of the cross
nor the blood of Christ
can bring you help this eve
the dead have come to claim a debt from thee
they stand outside your door
fourscore and three

Did you keep a watch for the dead man’s wind?
Did you see the woman with the comb in her hand?
Wailing away on the wall on the strand
as you danced to the Turkish song of the damned

You remember when the ship went down
you left me on the deck
the captain’s corpse jumped up
and threw his arms around my neck
for all these years I’ve had him on my back
this debt cannot be paid with all your jack

And as I sit and talk to you
I see your face go white
this shadow hanging over me
is no trick of the light
the specter on my back will soon be free
the dead have come to claim a debt from thee

Did you keep a watch for the dead man’s wind?
Did you see the woman with the comb in her hand?
Wailing away on the wall on the strand
as you danced to the Turkish song of the damned

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