Archive for December 21st, 2019

christmas-treeFlipping on the car radio this time of year brings torrents of holiday music. Some of the local stations change to an all Christmas format from Thanksgiving to the end of the year and you are bombarded with holiday tunes from every era and every level of quality– good , bad and ugly. Most are happy, solemn, goofy or stickily sentimental.

Or nostalgically melancholic.

Melancholy and nostalgia plays a big part in many Christmas songs, especially in those songs about being separated from loved ones at Christmas– I’ll Be Home For Christmas and White Christmas for examples.

But there are very few that fall into the category of A Fairy Tale of New York from the Irish band The Pogues. Released in 1987, it is about two Irish immigrants in NYC who look back on their stormy relationship and their dreams they once had that have disappeared due to drugs and drink. I would be optimistic in calling it melancholic or bittersweet especially with a verse like this:

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

But it is a beautiful tune and something in it connects on a very human level even through the harshest imagery of the song. And it has connected in a big way through the years. It has been the most played Christmas song in the UK since the turn of this century and is consistently named the most popular holiday song in many polls throughout Britain and Ireland.

Below is the video from the 1980’s for the song. A small bit of trivia: there is no NYPD Choir so the band recruited the NYPD Pipe and Dreams to appear in the video. They were asked to sing “Galway Bay” but since they didn’t know the song they sang the one song they all knew, especially in their reputedly drunken state at the filming– the theme from the Mickey Mouse Club. The film is slowed to better sync their lips to the intended song.

Maybe this song does so well because it makes our own Christmas melancholy seem not all that bad. So, enjoy, I guess…


I ran this back in 2015 but added the verse from the song this time.

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