Sunday, December 10, 2006

Really Good Christmas Songs III

What does everyone do at Christmas?

Play in the snow? ...Nah. It never snows.

Rejoice in the coming of Christ? ...More of an acquired taste.

Get drunk and argue with your immediate family? ...Hell, yeah!

And that's exactly why 'Fairytale of New York' by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl is the best Christmas song ever.
Shane 'Black-tooth' MacGowan is Irish and proud, which means he gets to growl, slur his words and introduce fiddles into punk rock. Although this is a ballad, it's none of your sappy shit; his voice is still rough as hell, and he was almost certainly two-thirds gone in this recording judging by the sound of it.
The song starts in the form of a piano-led, lonely plod through snowy streets, or so it feels, before the immortally drunk line 'so Happy Christmas, I laaaaave ya boooooooybeeeeeeee' and those fiddles kick in, along with Kirsty.
From then on it's prime vocal sparring: 'you were handsome, [you were pretty, Queen of New York City]' leading to a chorus about 'the NYPD choir', which may or may not exist.
Perhaps the most memorable exchange in the song is the infamous
'You scumbag, you maggot,
You cheap lousy faggot,
Merry Christmas your arse
I pray God it's our last'.
But somehow despite this, by the end MacGowan has turned the disintegration of their relationship into something truly romantic, about shared dreams and bells ringing out, delivered in a fine whisky-sodden snarl. And here come the violins.
I can't offer you a direct link like Miles, but here's my MySpace, which features the track: CLICK IT
So joy to the world (you cheap lousy faggots) and welcome to Christmas, O'Brien style.


Anonymous said...

Shiiiiiit. Now I don't have anything to moan at Miles for... ¬.¬ I'm sure I'll find something new.




Anyway, great look at the song. Fairytale of New York ALWAYS stands out for me in lists of mainstream Christmas songs. Running through a CD of songs like: "Mistletoe and Wine" by Cliff Richard (which I could never listen to all of by the way) or Aled Jones' "Walking In The Air" (... which again, I could never listen to all the way through. Possibly due to my short attention span, possibly due to my hatred of The Snowman) and then this song crops up. It's a great break from all the other seasonal sugar-coated tracks; which I do love, but you know how it gets having a whole... well over a month of them.

Can't wait until they finally play this in Queensgate (as opposed to "White Christmas" which was on this morning when it was pouring with rain... ¬.¬).

Miles said...

. . .

But it IS bland uninteresting mainstream Christmas music!

Honestly, depressing Christmas has been done SO much better. Just because you had this one forced down your throat every year since you were born on the radio doesn't make it any better.

Anonymous said...

But it's not bland uninteresting mainstream SUGARCOATED Christmas music. See the difference? SEE it?!

Plus, I can do an amusing impression of this one. So all's well, eh.

... ... I'm guessing Donna and Blitzen isn't mainstream too then? Even though it was in a HUGH GRANT movie?

Miles said...

Donna and Blitzen isn't particularly mainstream. That soundtrack was not given anywhere near as much attention as it deserved. And lyrically it's way too dense to ever be a mainstream Christmas hit.

But this is all irrelevant, it's just so much BETTER than Fairytale of New York.

I don't care if it's not sugary. You can be angry and bitter and still be dull as all hell.