The Wake Of The Medusa

Album: Hell's Ditch (1990)
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Songfacts®:

  • This song is a reworking of Theodore Gericault's painting The Raft of the Medusa, with the songwriter Jem Finer placing himself and his fellow Pogues within the horrific tableaux among the desperate sailors and passengers afloat on the raft. The painting was based on a real life incident when a French frigate, the Medusa ran aground off the west coast of Africa in 1816. 133 passengers were forced to fend for themselves for days on a makeshift raft with no food or water. Only 15 survived to be rescued a week later. The painting is currently exhibited in the Louvre in Paris.
  • The painting that inspired this song appears on the cover of The Pogues' second album, Rum, Sodomy, And The Lash, with faces of the band members replacing those of the men on the raft.
  • Along with the rest of the Hell's Ditch album, this song was produced by Joe Strummer of The Clash. In 1984, before releasing their first album, The Pogues (known at the time as Pogue Mahone), opened a few shows for The Clash. In 1991, when The Pogues fired Shane MacGowan (who had developed a drinking problem), Strummer filled in for him on their tour.

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