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

  • Drinking Nectar with Wendy Colonna (Album Review)
    In ancient Greek and Roman stories, nectar—that sweet, golden, unadulterated liquid—provides sustenance to gods and goddesses. Nectar’s purity offers energy to those who imbibe its sweet liquor, but nectar’s sweet essence offers an elixir that heals and, for the inhabitants of the heavenly realms at least, drinking nectar also confers immorality upon them. I […]
  • Red Heart Alarm - Hammer Anvil Stirrup (Album Review)
    Seattle is increasingly becoming a bastion of alt country Americana bands vying to be the next big thing toting the Ballard Avenue sound. Red Heart Alarm have coined one of the best terms for their sound calling what they do “Gruntry,” explaining that it marries their native city’s Grunge legacy with the melodic twang of classic Americana/Roots music. The ba […]
  • Matt Woods – With Love From Brushy Mountain (Album Review)
    Ever-bearded Tennessean troubadour Matt Woods’ second full length studio record, With Love From Brushy Mountain, is slated for a May 13, 2014 release.  This comes as a follow up to his first full length, The Matt Woods Manifesto, a trying task in and of itself.  Woods is hands down one of the hardest working singer/songwriters I’ve ever come across.  He eats […]
  • Rod Kennedy (1930-2014) and the Kerrville Folk Festival - Interview & Remembrance
    Rod Kennedy’s legacy is incalculable for those who truly love music, he departed this earthly plane on Monday 14th April 2014. R.I.P. The following “warts and all” late May 1986 interview with Mr. Kennedy, the founder of the Kerrville Folk Festival, was the lead feature in the debut issue of the Kerrville Kronikle fanzine sometime around 1988. No serendipity […]
  • The Redlands Palomino Company - Broken Carelessly (Album Review)
    It’s looking to be a good year for what one might loosely term “alt country” albums with Scots acts the New Madrids and Red Pine Timber Company handing in excellent efforts so far. Time now to look to London to see what’s cooking down there and keeping their end up are The Redlands Palomino Company whose fourth album, Broken Carelessly is released this week. […]
  • Simone Felice - King Tuts Wah Wah Hut (Glasgow - 4/11/2014)
    With his second solo album safely under his belt Simone Felice is rapidly conforming his status as one of the finest purveyors of Americana around these days. Fortunately (for us) he remains somewhat under the mass radar allowing audiences to see him in intimate settings such as the hallowed King Tuts, a perfect space to see and hear his shamanistic offering […]

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