“Reflector” is a series Atlas correspondent David Soares has undertaken to bring to your attention songs by non-Portuguese bands inspired — in many cases, rather mysteriously — by the westernmost European nation.
The London band Babyshambles fronted by Carl Barratt and Pete Doherty were essentially active when the latter paused from The Libertines. I am stretching it a bit again as “Fireman” off 2013 Sequel To The Prequel is not necessarily about Lisbon, but the chorus rather randomly goes:
I am a fireman
I live in a Lisbon bus shelter
I am the fireman
Satan’s little helper
Pete Doherty’s bands never quite enjoyed a huge success here, but they’ve given many concerts. In July 2006, he even picked Lisbon (of all places) to stay in a rehab clinic to try and solve his infamous drug abuse problem. This problem is thought to explain why he once preferred to travel by train 25 hours from London to Porto instead of taking a much more controlled flight. (He ended up outside Estádio do Dragão buying tickets to a F.C.Porto match from a scalper).
Although he said in an interview he always had special sensations here and wish he could write songs in Portuguese, he once confided that he found the Portuguese very weird. Indeed, once he was followed around for hours by a paparazzo until he started bargaining with a dealer and his shadow photographer put down the camera and came up to him: “Don’t do this. Go away before you die or get killed”. Not wanting to be saved, Pete Doherty admittedly told him to f*** off.