Much has been made about how a “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues and the late Kirsty MacColl is the greatest Christmas song ever to have been written.
Released in 1987, the song takes the form of a drunken man’s Christmas Eve rant about holidays past while sleeping off a binge in a New York cell. After another inmate in the ‘drunk tank’ sings a passage from the Irish drinking ballad, ‘The Rare Old Mountain Dew’ before Shane MacGowan – lead singer with The Pogues – begins to dream about a failed relationship. From thereon in, taking the form of a call and response between two Irish immigrants lovers or ex-lovers, the pair insult and name call whilst recalling missed opportunities and forgotten dreams.
Whilst there are numerous poignant lines in the song, one in particular had some resonance with me tonight. In the opening lines, the drunken cell mate tells MacGowan how he “won’t see another [Christmas Eve]”.
Tonight I heard the news that two young, 14 year old girls who have a connection with my daughter Maisie, have died in a tragic accident. It really upset me and made me immediately reflect on my own family – on my children in paticular – and how much you treasure and love them but also how quickly and so often you forget or get distracted from it.
In one part of the song, MacGowan sings how “you took my dreams from me”. For those young girls, death has done exactly that. And death is indiscriminate and so it’s not just the dreams and aspirations of the girls themselves but all those who have or will have been touched by the girls before their untimely passing.
“So Happy Christmas…” and enjoy the relatively little time we all have with the ones we truly love. And never ever forget to tell them “I love you baby”.
‘The 12 Posts of Xmas’ are a series of posts that will be published between 1 December and 25 December 2008. From tales of woe through humour to mere rants, each post is based around a classic Christmas song – however tenuous that might be…!!!
Everything on this site by Chris Allen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. www.chris-allen.co.uk