Real talk. The Pogues are where the folkloric Irish storytelling musical tradition meets the streets. The muddy, dirty mean streets of London, in this case, and what happens when your big city dreams let you down. It’s a song about being homeless, hopeless and exploited. Not a big stretch of the imagination; just observation. Shane MacGowan must have known more than a few Irish kids who fled the poverty and political unrest back home for English shores and ended up gutterpunks, or just in the gutter. The context of England’s ugly relationship with Ireland is important here, but it’s also a universal cautionary tale. Every wealthy city with glittering lights has a gutter full of dream seekers and refugees who’ve had their good looks and their dreams beaten out of them.