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Fairytale of New York

December 25, 2022

I’ve never been into Punk music very much. I would listen to local bands, and I listened to The Clash, but other than that my punk music experience is pretty much limited to what I might have read in the news or heard on local radio.

Except for The Pogues. I discovered The Pogues about 10 years ago when reading a book by Josh Stallings. Josh Stallings is a great crime fiction writer – like up there with Raymond Chandler ‘great’ – and he mentions a lot of music in his writing. Just about every mention was of artists l liked except for one I’d never heard of before: The Pogues. I started listening to them and liked what I was hearing. Other than saying they were founded by Shane MacGowan, whose birthday is today, and they were a Celtic punk band, I don’t feel qualified to offer any other biographical information that would go beyond copying what’s online, so if you’re interested, you can find the band here, and Shane here.

The song I’m sharing here for Jim’s Song Lyric Sunday is Fairytale of New York. It was written by Shane and bandmate Jem Finer and released on the band’s third album, If I Should Fall from Grace with God. The song was written after MacGowan made a bet with Elvis Costello, who was producing the album, that he and Finer couldn’t write a Christmas song without it being ‘jingly jangly, Happy Christmas’. I thought because today is Christmas it would be a good offering. The song isn’t without controversy because of some of the language used but it’s still played today and loved by many. The song is a story of a husband and wife, Irish immigrants to America in the 20th century, sometime in the 1940s, who cane with dreams of fortune, fame and stardom. The couple love each other, resent each other, suffer with each other, and ultimately love each other. It’s not a happy Christmas song and it’s a very happy Christmas song. The person singing with Shane is Kristy MacColl.

Happy birthday, Shane, and thanks for the music.

And merry Christmas to anyone reading this who is celebrating today.

Below the lyrics are two versions of the song. One is the official video (with Matt Dillon) and the other is a live version.

Fairytale of New York

It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won’t see another one
And then he 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
When all our dreams come true

They’ve got cars big as bars
They’ve 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 howled out for more
Sinatra was swinging
All the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner
Then danced through the night

The boys of 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

The boys of the NYPD choir
Still singing Galway Bay
And the bells are 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

The boys of the NYPD choir
Still singing Galway Bay
And the bells are ringing out
For Christmas day

5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 25, 2022 7:15 am

    Hey Michael. I agree. A sensational band, a sensational song and a sensational song writer. But it’s actually called ‘A Fairytale of New York’ which, coincidentally, is the also the title of a sensational novel by Irish/American writer, J.P. Donleavey, although there is no connection between the two.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. December 25, 2022 7:37 am

    Brilliant choice!


  3. December 25, 2022 9:26 am

    I have heard of the Pogues, but I am not familiar with their music, although I think this song is lovely. Thanks for sharing your music, Michael and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year.


  4. December 25, 2022 10:56 am

    What a great song! Matt Dillon the arresting officer in the first video. Merry Christmas to you, Michael.


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