Christmas Songs That Don’t Suck: Fairytale of New York

EDITOR’S NOTE: To celebrate Christmas 2012, I’m offering a list of the only Christmas songs worth listening to. At the risk of sounding self-righteous or arrogant (two things I do regularly and with precision), everything not on my list is pure twaddle…filler between the good songs. I considered calling this “The Only Christmas Songs Worth a Shit,” but it’s Christmas. Right?

I didn’t learn of The Pogues‘ Fairytale of New York until about five or six years ago. I was teaching graphic design at a local two-year college and my department chair cranked the iMac in the classroom playing Absolute Radio.

“This song. This song is like a banner of pride for the Irish,” he pointed out.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the song, warranting a lengthy look back in The Guardian. The honesty and despair in this song embodies what “real” Christmas is. Sure my family had “happy” Christmases, but like any ethnic family, there always bit of acrimony. And for most people, Christmas isn’t happy time. For some, it’s an entirely too stressful time that tears the bandage off of wounds.

“You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot, Happy christmas your arse I pray god it’s our last,” are lyrics belted out by the late Kirsty MacColl. Love endures, but the song shows that Christmas brings out as much bad as it does good.

“I also think a lot of people identify with the main characters being down on their luck and remembering better days and dreams they once had,” said Shane MacGowan, lead singer of The Pogues and writer of the song, in an interview with British tabloid The Sun. “But there is also a lot of hope in the song. They clearly still love each other and hold each other’s dreams, which is what people do.”

 

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