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Songs of Christmas: 'Fairytale of New York'

December 20, 2013 - Andy Gray
I was going to save this song for last, but many folks won’t have time to get online on Christmas Eve.

If I have to pick a favorite Christmas song, this is it – the weary, beaten voice of Shane MacGowan that opens the song, accompanied only by a piano; the swell of accordion, tin whistle, banjo and other instruments that join him; the mix of resignation and bitterness in Kirsty MacColl’s voice; and that glorious chorus that somehow makes it all uplifting.

Hearing MacColl sing, “You took my dreams from me when I first found you” and MacGowan’s response – “I kept them with me babe/I put them with my own/Can’t make it all alone/I built my dreams around you – gets me every time.

One of my all-time favorite concert memories is hearing The Pogues sing “Fairytale of New York” at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., in 2006 as fake snow fell over the stage. It was MacGowan’s first show with the band on U.S. shores in 15 years. It may have been March, but it felt like Christmastime.

Click the link to see the original music video for the song (and, yes, that’s Matt Dillon playing a cop). And I guess I should mention this song includes a couple of PG-13 words.


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