Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Christmas Your Arse

It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won't see another one
And then he sang a song
The Rare Old Mountain Dew
I turned my face away
And dreamed about you

Got on a lucky one
Came in eighteen to one

I've got a feeling
This year's for me and you
So happy Christmas

I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true

When I think of my favorite Christmas songs, The Pogues Fairytale of New York is at the top of my list. It is the sort of bittersweet song that properly captures the Christmas spirit in all its shades of gray.

Says wonderful Wikipedia, "The song features two Irish immigrants, lovers or ex-lovers, their youthful hopes all but 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 which are sometimes bittersweet, sometimes plain bitter":
You're a bum
You're a punk

You're an old slut on junk

Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed

You scumbag, you maggot

You cheap lousy faggot

Happy Christmas your arse

I pray God it's our last


Yes, yes, I know that this does not sound like much of a Christmas song but "real" Christmas songs make me want to hurl. This song has all the pain, suffering and cussing that the holidays inspire in those of us sick to death of sickly sweet cornball Christmas mush. And underneath the waves of heartbreak and crushed dreams, there is a glimmer of hope which seems impossible to snuff out completely:

I could have been someone
Well so could anyone

You took my dreams from me

When I first found you

I kept them with me babe

I put them with my own

Can't make it all alone

I've built my dreams around you


Embedded below is a live version of the song from 1988, complete with fake snow. You can also check out the music video here.

You gotta love Shane in all his toothless, piss drunk glory, especially since he still manages to hit every note and snarl with pitch-perfect perfection. Kirsty seems a bit wooden and nervous but that is part of her charm.

Sadly, Kirsty was killed by a motorboat in 2000 while pushing her son to safety. She will be sorely missed. Said former Pogues vocalist and guitarist Phil Chevron about Kirsty:

"Ummistakably, the tour bus was a classier joint with her on board," Chevron writes. "She shared our insatiable musical curiosity and our appetite for hair-brained schemes. A folk-punk opera, or an all-Pogue recording of West Side Story."

So in Kirsty's honor, let's all drunkenly sing along to, The Fairytale of New York:

1 comment:

Palu said...

Yarrr, i loves the pogues - hey, have you ever checked out "The Parting Glass" - its a website devoted to deciphering and understanding the method, the madness... or whatever, of the pogues lyrics. It was a great help when i was learning to sing a pogues song. Anyway, i've been reading your blog, its quite prolific, wow! Anyway here's the url for that site:
http://www.poguetry.com/
Cheerio,
-P