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Fairy Tale Of New York

Fairytale of New York is a Christmas song by Anglo-Irish folk-rock group The Pogues, and featuring the late English singer Kirsty MacColl. It was released in 1987. The song is an Irish folk style ballad, written by Jem Finer and Shane MacGowan, and featured on The Pogues' album If I Should Fall from Grace with God.

Kirsty MacColl was not originally intended to appear in the song. Instead, the female vocal was meant for the band's bassist, Cait O'Riordan but she left the band in 1986, before the song was completed. The Pogues were at the time being produced by Kirsty MacColl's then-husband, Steve Lillywhite, who asked his wife to provide a guide vocal of the female part for a demo version of the song. The Pogues liked MacColl's contribution so much that they asked her to sing the part on the actual recording.

The song takes the form of 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 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.
The song title is taken from J. P. Donleavy's novel A Fairy Tale of New York, and was chosen after the song had been written and recorded.

Despite the line from the lyrics "The boys of the NYPD choir still singing Galway Bay", the New York Police Department does not have a choir, but it does have a Pipes and Drums unit that is featured in the video for the song. The Pipes and Drums unit did not know Galway Bay and so played a different song for the music video, and the editor put it in slow motion to fit the beat.

In the video, the police officer arresting the intoxicated MacGowan is played by well-known actor, Matt Dillon. Also, in the video, because MacGowan cannot play the piano, at the urging of record company executives, James Fearnley reluctantly wore MacGowan's jacket and rings.

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