On the second day of Gheorghemas, Big Gheorghe gave to me...
The Finest Holiday Duet in History
And One Hell of a bloggy Par-ty
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.
So goes the greatest holiday song of the modern era*, recorded by the Pogues in 1988 and sung by Shane MacGowan and the late Kirsty MacColl.
'Fairytale of New York' is the ballad of a pair of Irish immigrants
down on their luck in a city celebrating the Christmas season. It's by
turns tender, vulgar, and comical. It is by no means your parents'
seasonal fare - you won't hear 'Fairytale' anywhere near 'It's Christmas Eve in Washington'.
* This is both a personal opinion, and an entirely objective fact, deemed so by a VH1 UK poll in 2004.
I've long loved this tune, largely because I've long
loved The Pogues. I owned If I Should Fall From Grace with God on cassette
(Google it, kids) even before I met Clarence, who loves The Pogues more
than anyone I know, save the benighted Cap Noonan, who may well be part
of the band at this point. It's hard to keep track of him, what with all
his republican (and I don't mean GOP) rabble rousing and Jameson-fueled
sentimental journeys. (These journeys - and inside jokes - being referenced out of much
Pardon the digression.
With that as backdrop, you'll understand the great joy I felt experienced when a Ron
Zacapa-aided Internet walkabout last weekend led me to a brilliant
documentary on the making of 'Fairytale of New York'. The doc, released in 2005, features many of the original members of The Pogues, including
the inimitable - and miraculously still living - MacGowan, the only man
alive who looks at Clarence and sees a rank amateur teetotaler. The film is worth watching for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is MacGowan's toothless, hissing laughter.
in six YouTube installments, the documentary doubles as a history of
the careers of both MacColl and The Pogues. Among the more poignant
moments, the reflections of producer Steve Lillywhite (who was married
to MacColl at the time of her death in 2000) on his late wife's
contribution to the song. You'll likely find your immediate surroundings
a mite dusty at that point in the film. Especially if you've had a
cocktail or three.
I also particularly enjoyed the story of the
NYPD Choir (as in, 'The boys in the NYPD Choir were singing Galway
Bay/And the bells were ringing out on Christmas Day'), which doesn't
actually exist. The producers of the video for 'Fairytale' papered over
that inconvenient fact by hijacking the NYPD Pipe and Drum Band,
bribing them with copious amounts of alcohol. The many-sided memories
(bemused police and addled band members, with a side of Matt Dillon
thrown in for absurd good measure) of the ensuing video shoot are likely
to bring a whole different sort of tears.
Enjoy the film as our
gift to you in this season of silliness and revelry - it's a not your typical 90-second G:TB experience (entendre entirely intentional - our ladies are so very lucky) so be sure to block out some time. It's also advised that you have a whiskey on hand, so maybe watch at home instead of the office. We feel certain
that Shane and Gheorghe would get on famously, even if there's not a
chance in hell that either would understand a word said by the other.