Friday, December 26, 2008

Fairytale of New York

The fifth and final in a series of videos around christmas. This is the song that (at least in the UK in Ireland) repeatedly was voted the best christmas song ever - and I admit that it comes close to the previous one by Jim Croce in my own appreciation. As time progresses, it may even catch up: I actually had never heard the song until christmas ast year and it is definitely growing on me. It is perhaps an unlikely combination: the Irish folk rockers The Pogue and Scottish singer Kirsty MacColl (R.I.P.) teamed up in 1987 to record this folk style ballad about a drunken man's Christmas Eve reverie about holidays past while sleeping off a binge in a New York City drunk tank. After an inebriated old man also incarcerated in the jail cell sings a passage from the Irish drinking ballad "The Rare Old Mountain Dew", the drunken man (MacGowan) begins to dream about a failed relationship. The remainder of the song (which may be an internal monologue) takes the form of a call and response between two Irish immigrants, lovers or ex-lovers, their youthful hopes crushed by alcoholism and drug addiction, reminiscing and bickering on Christmas Eve in New York City. MacColl's melodious singing contrasts with the harsh sound of MacGowan's voice and the lyrics are sometimes bittersweet, sometimes plain bitter: "Happy Christmas your arse/ I pray God it's our last" (taken from wikipedia). There are various video's of the song on YouTube, but the ones with the original footage of the performers end prematurely. So in the end, I opted for this one, which has the added advantage that it shows the lyrics.
Art Rock score: 9/10 (very strong song, one of 650 best songs of all time)