Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Happy Christmas

If I had to be ruthless and decide on a Top Ten Christmas song list, a la Desert Island Discs, then the top ten would not be complete without the song Fairytale Of New York by The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl.

I had liked The Pogues since I first heard A Pair Of Brown Eyes, and Kirsty was one of my faves ever since There's A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis.

For those not familiar with The Pogues, they are a band that mixed traditional Irish music with rock and punk music, being strongly influenced by The Clash, among others. They originally formed in King's Cross, London, under the name Pogue Mahone, which was an Anglicisation of the Irish póg mo thóin, which means "kiss my arse." Understandably getting any radio play with this name was tricky and so it was shortened to The Pogues. They led the way for other Irish-folk-punk bands such as Flogging Molly and Black 47.

Kirsty MacColl was an English singer-songwriter, the daughter of renowned folkie Ewan MacColl, and was married to producer Steve Lillywhite (who produced such legendary albums as U2's Boy, War, and October, Peter Gabriel's Peter Gabriel III (aka Melt), Simple Minds' Glittering Prize 81/82, Siouxsie & The Banshees' The Scream, Big Country's The Crossing, Morrissey's Vauxhall and I, and XTC's Black Sea.). Kirsty had achieved moderate success in the UK with 'Chip Shop' and her cover of the Kinks' classic "Days" the video of which featured hubby Steve on guitar. She had also written "They Don't Know" and released it as her debut solo single, which got a lot of airplay at the time but because of a record distributors' strike, was not available and consequently failed to chart. It later became Tracey Ullmann's debut hit.
Tragically Kirsty herself died in a boating accident in Mexico, which you can read about at

Fairytale Of New York brought The Pogues, with Shane MacGowan's half-slurred, half-snarling, semi-drunken vocals and the bands' traditional Celtic instrumentation, together with MacColl's sweet and powerful tones for a Christmas song unlike any other. Here is the song, along with the complete lyrics. Anyone who has seen the movie P.S. I Love You will recognize this as the song played during the wake. Please, pull up a comfy chair, pour yourself a wee drop of Old Bushmills and enjoy.

It was Christmas Eve, babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me:
won't see another one

And then they sang a song
The rare old mountain dew
I turned my face away
and dreamed about you

Got on a lucky one
Came in eighteen to one
I've got a feeling
This year's for me and you
So happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
Where all our dreams come true.

They got cars big as bars
They got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you
It´s no place for the old
When you first took my hand on a cold Christmas Eve
You promised me Broadway was waiting for me

You were handsome, you were pretty
Queen of New York City
when the band finished playing they yelled out for more
Sinatra was swinging,
all the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner then danced through the night.

And the boys from the NYPD choir
were singing Galway Bay
And the bells were ringing out for Christmas Day.

You're a bum, you're a punk
You're an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray god it's our last.

And the boys of the NYPD choir
still singing Galway Bay
And the bells were ringing out for Christmas Day.

I could have been someone
Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can't make it all alone
I've built my dreams around you

And the boys of the NYPD choir
still singing Galway Bay
And the bells are ringing out
For Christmas Day.

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