Tuesday, January 02, 2007

fairytale of new york

Happy New Year! Advent and Christmas are over for another year – as are all the carol concerts, the Christmas Eve broadcast from King’s College, Cambridge and the like. It was a good to have time to reflect on the coming of Christ (I thoroughly recommend “Advent Readings from Iona” by the Iona Community). I seemed to manage to avoid most of the commercial songs associated with Christmas (eg. Slade’s “Merry Christmas Everybody” and Crosby’s “White Christmas”) – although I did find myself singing “…. chestnuts roasting by an open fire” etc in an effort to rock Iris to sleep sometime over the holiday period!
However, the one song I really did enjoy listening to (over and over) again was “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues+Kirsty MacColl – which was the subject of an excellent TV documentary on BBC3 over Christmas. The song has absolutely nothing to do with the virgin birth, shepherds or wise men – but does have an awful lot to do with alcohol! The only divine reference comes in the immortal lines: “Happy Christmas your arse/ I pray God it’s our last”! And yet, despite this, I strangely find the song both stirring and poignant. The blurb on the BBC website puts it this way: “We’ve all been there. You’re down the pub on Christmas Eve, cheesy Yuletide songs are being belted out non-stop and you want to kick the jukebox. And then you hear those magical opening lines:’It was Christmas Eve babe/ In the drunk tank…’. All your troubles melt away, and by the time the chorus has come around, the whole pub is singing along: ‘The boys of the NYPD choir were singing Galway Bay/ And the bells were ringing out for Christmas Day’ “.
Photo: composer/singer Shane MacGowan (and mouth!)

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