Jump to Content

Welcome! You’re browsing the No Depression Archives

No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

Close This

Farther Along - Obituary from Issue #32 March-April 2001

Kirsty MacColl

1959 - 2000

Kirsty MacColl was a one-woman Beach Boys. The singer-songwriter who wrote Tracey Ullman’s girl group-flavored smash “They Don’t Know” and traded barbs with Shane McGowan on the Pogues’ “Fairytale Of New York” could also multi-track her crystal-clear voice into gorgeous cushions of pop perfection (check out the harmonies on her own “He’s On The Beach”).

Over the course of her diverse career, MacColl unhesitatingly ventured into other musical realms, drawing on country, rap and Latin influences for her own music, while providing backup vocals for David Byrne, the Rolling Stones, Alison Moyet, John Wesley Harding, and Happy Mondays, to name just a few. MacColl’s unique voice was silenced December 18, when she was killed by a speedboat while swimming off the coast of Mexico. She was 41.

Born and raised in England, MacColl was the daughter of folk legend Ewan MacColl. She began her own music career in the late ’70s in the punk outfit Drug Addix, then signed a solo deal with Stiff Records, which released her original version of “They Don’t Know” in 1979. A subsequent single, “There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis”, was issued from her 1981 Polydor debut Desperate Character (and was revived many years later by Seattle country-rock band the Picketts).

Mainstream success eluded MacColl, but minor hits such as “Fairytale” and her cover of Billy Bragg’s “A New England” kept her in the public eye during the ’80s. She married producer Steve Lillywhite in 1984 and had two sons; the couple separated a decade later. MacColl’s subsequent solo albums, Kite (1989), Electric Landlady (1991) and Titanic Days (1993), saw her collaborating with ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, and ex-Fairground Attraction guitarist Mark E. Nevin, mixing together tales of failed relationships with cutting social commentary (“Children of the revolution coming out to play/Someone sells a gun and someone blows them all away,” sounds even more chilling today than when it first appeared on Landlady).

Last year’s Tropical Brainstorm highlighted her interest in Cuban music; one of her last projects was narrating the radio series “Kirsty MacColl’s Cuba” for BBC Radio Two. MacColl’s deft touch with a lyric, keen ear for pop melodicism, and consummate vocal style will be much missed.

Enjoy the ND archives? Consider making a donation with PayPal or send a check to:
No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108


Did you enjoy this article? Start a discussion about it, or find out what others are saying in the No Depression Community forum.

Join the Discussion »

Find out what's going on in roots music. Share concert photos and videos, learn about new artists, blog about the music you love.

Join the No Depression Community »

Originally Featured in Issue #32 March-April 2001

Buy our history before it’s gone!

Each issue is artfully designed and packed full of great photos that you don‘t get online. Visit the No Depression store to own a piece of history.

Visit the No Depression Store »

From the Blogs

  • SummerTyne Americana Festival #9 - Jumping Hot Club Stage (Gateshead, U.K. - July 18-20, 2014)
    Wow, it’s taken nearly two weeks for me to get my breath back after another frantic and wonderful SummerTyne Americana Festival. As I say every year, the crowds turn up not knowing anyone on the Jumping Hot Club Outside stage and go away with their favourite new artist of the year. Starting at noon on Friday, the outside stage hosted seven local acts, all wi […]
  • What Happens When a Band on the Rise Finds Out Its Name Is an Obscure Racial Stereotype? Meet Parsonsfield (Formerly Poor Old Shine).
    For Poor Old Shine, it started with a song… a traditional prison work song of the American South, called “Ain’t No Cane on This Brazos.” It’s been interpreted by everyone from Dylan and the Band, to the Low Anthem, Lyle Lovett and the Wood Brothers. And it was the song in one of the great scenes in the movie “Festival Express,” as a completely blotto Rick Da […]
  • Getting to Know Wendy Cahill -- Falcon Ridge Emerging Artist
    Wendy Cahill has a voice.  She’s got a voice that is captivating and beguiling.  She’s got soul.  And like I said above, man-oh-man, she has got a Voice.  It’s raw and powerful and is definitely meant to be heard! Wendy Cahill is one of 24 Emerging Artists chosen for this year’s Falcon Ridge Folk Festival.  The Emerging Artist showcase is always one of the h […]
  • The Post-Newport Earthquake: Watkins Family Hour
    Did you feel it? That's what everybody in Los Angeles asks each other whenever a shake or quake rattles and rolls through the valleys and flatlands. Sometimes there's just a release of pressure beneath the crust, and other times it's an up and down jolt that lasts only a second. And then you forget about it. Until the next time.  Sunday night […]
  • Johnny Winter - True to the Blues: The Johnny Winter Story (Album Review)
    “This music proves that a white man with white hair can really play the blues,” Pete Townsend says in the booklet that accompanies True To the Blues: The Johnny Winter Story, the four-CD box set retrospective of Winter's career just out on Columbia /Legacy. But age had nothing to do with Winter's look or sound. Due to his albinism, Winter's ha […]
  • Americana Music Show Episode #200 Tribute to the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill music scene
    On episode 200 of the Americana Music Show, I pay tribute to local bands and songwriters in the Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh NC area.  This week features over 30 local artists from the area including John Howie Jr. and the Rosewood Bluff, Lyn Blakey, Jefferson Hart and Ghosts of Old North State, Mandolin Orange, Jon Shain, Radar's Clowns Of Se […]

Shop Amazon by clicking through this logo to support NoDepression.com. We get a percentage of every purchase you make!

Subscribe To the No Depression Newsletter

Subscribe to the No Depression Newsletter