Music Monday: Fairytale of New York

Our Christmas decorations are up! Hubby must put them up on 1st December. He can’t wait any longer. He’s a big kid really!

He decorates the outside of the house, while I do the tree and the indoor decorations. We have a real tree for the first time in years. It’s huge! It does look lovely though.

My lovely hubby, and my lovely Christmas tree! Hubby is six feet tall, so you get an idea of the tree size...

My lovely hubby, and my lovely Christmas tree! Hubby is six feet tall, so you get an idea of the tree size…

I also have cinammon-scented pine cones. I’ve been seeing them in the garden centre every Christmas for ages and saying ‘I must get some of those’. Finally, I got some – and between them and the piney scent of the tree, the whole house smells gorgeous.

I know some of you will be saying ‘Bah Humbug! How can you be doing Christmas things already?’ Truth is, I love it. I’ve always loved Christmas, but sadly in the household I grew up in it wasn’t a happy occasion. I’m not going to go into why in this post. Maybe I’ll explain some other time. But I always wanted Christmas to be magical (probably through reading too many books where it was), and ever since I left my childhood home, and especially since being with hubby, I’ve endeavoured to make it that way.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that there’s far too much consumerism and that the goodwill often gets lost. I try not to lose sight of the fact that it’s about love, not how big a tree you have or how many presents you’ve got. (Says the person with the ridiculously big tree). I know Christmas is a difficult time for many. Anyway, that leads me on to…

…Christmas songs. I love them too. The carols, the cheery ones, and of course the cynical ones… My Music Monday choice this week definitely falls into the latter category. Frequently voted the best Christmas song ever, Fairytale of New York, performed by the unlikely pairing of The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, was first released in November 1987. It has been re-released several times since, and re-enters the charts every Christmas.

The song tells an Irish immigrant’s story about Christmases past while sleeping off a binge in a New York City drunk tank. It becomes a back-and-forth between the male and female characters of the story, their youthful hopes crushed by alcoholism and drug addiction, as they reminisce and bicker on Christmas Eve.

Kirsty MacColl’s melodious singing contrasts with the harshness of Shane MacGowan’s voice, and the lyrics are sometimes bittersweet — sometimes purely bitter: ‘Happy Christmas your arse/I pray God it’s our last’. The title, taken from author J.P. Donleavy’s novel A Fairy Tale of New York, was chosen after the song had been written and recorded.

Since Kirsty MacColl’s untimely death in 2000, the song has become even more poignant. It’s been a favourite of mine ever since it was first released. During my University years, a friend and I used to give a rendition of it at pub sing-songs. Not sure how well we did it, but it always went down a treat (possibly because our audience was inebriated). 😉

Here’s Fairytale of New York and the wonderful video that accompanies it. (Look out for an appearance by actor Matt Dillon, as the cop).

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