Here Comes Everybody and Here Comes Everybody

Friday, 20 April, 2012

In 2008, Penguin Press published Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, a book on the effect of the internet on modern group dynamics by Clay Shirky, who says it’s about “what happens when people are given the tools to do things together, without needing traditional organizational structures.” The title, Here Comes Everybody, alludes to HCE, a central figure in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.

Pogue Mahones bar, Bolzana Inspired by things Joycean, no doubt, a Celtic punk band formed in North London in 1982. They called themselves Pogue Mahone, this being the Anglicization of the Irish póg mo thóin, meaning “kiss my arse”. Advised to change their name to something more commercially acceptable, they began trading as The Pogues and achieved fame and fortune. Before long, they were gracing world tours with the likes of Elvis Costello, U2 and Bob Dylan, and celebrating huge commercial success with the Christmas song, Fairytale of New York.

Now, back to Joyce, who once said “Ireland sober is Ireland stiff”, meaning the drunkenness was the nation’s more tolerable state. It would seem that the Pogues took this to heart because their front man, Shane MacGowan, began drinking to such excess that he inevitably experienced considerable difficulty with singing and standing and speaking. This led to “misunderstandings” and a parting of the ways followed. All of this is by way of introducing the soon-to-be-published Here Comes Everybody: The Story of The Pogues by James Fearnley, the group’s accordion player. The blurb says that Fearnley “brings to life the youthful friendships, the bust-ups, the amazing gigs, the terrible gigs, the fantastic highs and dramatic lows in a hugely compelling, humorous, moving and honest account of life in one of our most treasured and original bands.” It’s near the top of the Rainy Day beach-lit list already.

As far as we know, it is not possible to copyright a book title, but if a book succeeds and the author is still living (or his/her heirs are and they hold the rights), and can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that another author was deliberately trying to take advantage of its success by using the same title, our learned friends will be called in and writs for infringement will begin fly like witticisms at a Pogues’ party or snuff at a Finnegan’s wake. It should be noted, though, that copyright on James Joyce’s works in the European Union expired at midnight on 31 December last year so HCE is available for quotation without reference or payment to the Joyce estate.

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