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.