Friday, December 15, 2006

The best christmas song ...ever

Heard this christmas's first rendition of "Fairytale of New York" on the radio yesterday, wonderful, sheer wonderfullness.

By coincidence the song is also the subject of an article in this months Uncut magazine (perhaps the best music magazine in the world...ever), in which Shane MacGowan describes the long process of writing a christmas masterpiece - two years from conception to completion and a replacement female vocal along the way.

It started off as a challenge from Elvis Costello to MacGowan for him to write a male/female duet sing and he and the band worked on several ideas before coming up with the idea of a pair of drunken brawling Irish immigrants who find themselves in New York int he 1930's, cash in pocket and drink to spend it on, the original title of "Christmas Eve in the Drunk Tank" describing the whole basis of the song.

It was christmas eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, wont 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
Ive got a feeling
This years for me and you
So happy christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true

Theyve got cars big as bars
Theyve got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you
Its 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

Youre a bum
Youre a punk
Youre 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 its our last

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
Cant make it all alone
Ive built my dreams around you

The original duet partner Cait O'Riordan buggered off and married Elvis Costello but two years later record producer Steve Lillywhite was working with The Pogues and suggested that his wife Kirsty MacColl would do a good job of the vocals - it wouldn't be the same without her now.

And christmas wouldn't be the same if I didn't hear this song, and Lennons "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" at least once on the radio, long may they reign.

YouTube link right here good people featuring Matt Dillon as the police officer

And another one (which loads slowly)



4 comments:

John_D said...

This and the Pretenders I can forgive. No-one else. No exceptions.

Except me. 3 verses, a chorus, and some witty interludes already down.... Going to need help with music from somewhere though, as I have the musical ability of your average mayfly.

Alan said...

My wife bought a CD last year - Now That's What I Call Christmas or something - and it had Fairytale Of New York on it.

Sung by Ronan Keating and Maire Brennan.

I had to divorce her.

Gary said...

Jesus Christ thats appalling, no doubt Ronan tried to claim that he'd written it too - like he does with all of the country ballads that he records thinking that no-one else listens to "New Country".

Whining little tosser he is.

Alan said...

Mr. Keating didn't even have the balls to leave the sweary bits in - "You're cheap and you're haggard".

I had to rush out and buy a Christmas compilation that had the real version on it. Even now, my wife can't understand what the fuss is about (I didn't really divorce her, but the thought crossed my mind).