Merry Christmas with The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl!

The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl - "Fairytale of New York"
I hope everyone has an amazing day! The Fifteen Days of Christmas Tfronky Style are over, Merry Christmas to all. There has been a lot of great music in the past 2+ weeks but I made a point of saving the best for last. “Fairytale of New York” was released by The Pogues in 1987 and is on my favorite album from the band, If I Should Fall from Grace with God. The song features a duet between Pogues lead vocalist Shane MacGowan and guest vocalist Kirsty MacColl.

I realize this may not be the most traditional Christmas song and the original version you will hear in this video features a couple of lines that BBC Radio 1 banned in 2007 from airplay. Considering the song was twenty years old at the time it seems a little lame that kind of censorship occurred then, but since we do live in an era where everything has to be politically correct I guess I somewhat understand it. Funny thing is Radio 1 reversed that decision one day later when the band, Kirsty MacColl’s mother and most important, the listeners barraged the station with criticism.

The female vocal was originally to be done by Pogues bassist Cait O’Riordan but she left the band in 1986 before the song was completed. Luckily Kirsty MacColl’s husband Steve Lillywhite was producing the band at the time, so he asked her to lay down the vocals for the demo. The Pogues liked what they heard so much she was asked to do the actual recording. Thank God because today we have an absolute classic!

“Fairytale of New York” is the journey of an Irish immigrant sleeping off a drunken binge in a New York City drunk tank on Christmas Eve. Another drunk in the same cell begins singing an Irish ballad by the name of “The Rare Old Mountain Dew” which causes the narrator of the story (Shane MacGowan) to dream about the female from that ballad. The remainder of the tune is the communication between the two as the couple bickers on Christmas Eve about their hopes and dreams dashed away by alcoholism and drug addiction.

Nope, this is not a “Rudolph” or “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” type of Christmas song. This is a sad Irish folk ballad but I am not alone in proclaiming it one of, if not the best Christmas songs. The song has reentered the U.K. Top 75 Singles chart every year since 2005, was #1 in Ireland and #2 in the U.K. in 1987 and was named Britain’s “favourite Christmas song” from a 2012 poll of ITV viewers. Those are just a few of the accolades this song has received. Best of all, it is one of those Christmas tunes that is simply a great song period. You don’t have to wait for the holidays to play this one. Take a listen and see if you recognize the cop at the beginning of this video.

Cheers and Merry Christmas!


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