Fairytale of New York The Pogues
Song Title: Fairytale of New York
Artist: The Pogues
Date of release: 23rd of November 1987
Description: ” Fairytale of New York ” is by The Pogues, they were a Celtic punk band from London, formed in 1982 and disbanded in 1996. The song was written by Jem Finer and Shane MacGowan.
Jem Finer ( Jeremy Max “Jem” Finer ) is an English musician, artist, composer and one of the founders of The Pogues. Jem is a multi instrumentalist, playing the Banjo, mandola, guitar and saxophone. He also plays the hurdy-gurdy, which is a stringed instrument whereby the sound is produced from a cranked wheel rubbing strings, thought to have originated from the fiddle.
Shane MacGowan ( Shane Patrick Lysaght MacGowan ) was the frontman of Celtic punk band The Pogues. He was born on Christmas Day in Pembury, Kent, England, in 1957.
His influences are the 19th-century Irish poet James Clarence Mangan and playwright Brendan Behan.
” Fairytale of New York ” was produced by Englishman Steve Lillywhite, the six Grammy Award winning producer has worked on over 500 records and produced for artists including U2, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Simple Minds, The Psychedelic Furs and The Rolling Stones and many others. He was awarded the CBE in 2012 for his contributions to music.
The single was released on the 23rd November 1987 by record label Pogue Mahone and taken from the third Album by The Pogues called ” If I Should Fall from Grace with God “.
The song features vocals from Kirsty MacColl, English singer and songwriter. Kirsty had a Uk number 14 hit with ” There’s a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis ” in 1981. In the year 2000, at the age of 41, she was killed when a powerboat hit her in Mexico.
The Irish folk-style ballad was written as a duet in 1985, with Shane MacGowan in the role of the male and Kirsty MacColl as the female. Although it is a Christmas song, it was recorded in sweltering heat in July.
Originally the whole concept of the song started as a bet. The Pogues first producer Elvis Costello wagered both Shane MacGowan and Jem Finer that they couldn’t write a song for Christmas that wasn’t sentimental and slushy, as many other artist’s previous festive singles had been.
After writing, Shane decided the title would be named after a 1973 novel A Fairy Tale of New York by J. P. Donleavy. He got the idea after finding a book left at the recording studio by co-writer Jem Finer.
Problems meant that ” Fairytale of New York ” couldn’t be released for another 2 years. The original female vocalist, Cait O’Riordan, left the group and so they had lost their female part of the track.
Then their record label Stiff ran into financial difficulties and ended up going bust ( now re-started and part of SPZ Group ). Once the problems had been ironed out a demo was made at the World famous Abbey Road Studios in London.
It was then that Kirsty’s vocals were added, upon hearing her vocals for the first time, Shane was impressed and so invited Kirsty to be part of the song.
The accompanying music video was directed by New Yorker Peter Dougherty, he also directed ” Hold It Now, Hit It ” for the Beastie Boys in 1986.
It opens with Shane sitting at a piano playing the opening of the song, however Shane couldn’t actually play the piano. The close-ups of his hands on the keys were in fact those of co-writer Jem Finer wearing Shane’s rings.
The video features the American actor Matt Dillon, who arrests Shane and leads him to the cells.
Once the song was released, it came to the attention of the BBC censors who banned the words ” faggot ” and ” arse “. The references to drugs also caused controversy, the line in the song ” an old slut on junk ” is a reference to the drug Heroin.
” Fairytale of New York ” was ( and still is ) a commercial success for The Pogues. In the United Kingdom the song entered the UK chart on the 5th of December 1987 and peaked at number 2. It stayed in the top ten for 11 weeks and spent a total of 79 weeks on the UK chart.
In Ireland the song reached Number One and spent 5 weeks at the top, in all the song spent 7 weeks on the Irish chart.
BillBoard Hot 100 Highest Chart Position: N/A
UK Highest Chart Position: 2
Other Countries Highest Chart Positions: Sweden 16, Norway 9 , New Zealand 5, Ireland 1
Official Website: Pogues.com
FaceBook Page: Facebook.com/Poguetry
Wikipedia Page: Wikipedia.org/ThePogues