Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fairytale Of New York... Ends In Tragedy

I've been listening to The Pogues' Fairytale Of New York today, over 10 times. It was cold out, bitter weather trying to bring the whole City down along with it. The sun looked grey, discoloured rays of discontent descended upon the streets, dull and unpolished, bleak. It smelled like winter, three months early.

The only thing that brought a smile to my face was the song - the saddest Christmas song ever written, ringing in my headphones.

It's a bittersweet time in the History Of Me, things are seemingly falling apart and I never know how to react to the blows that keep coming - so I just stand there and take them, like the strongest-jawed fighter in the history of boxing. And I keep standing, because it's how I was raised, even though it doesn't really make any sense to.

And the song... a duet bwteen Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl - and I usually hate fucking duets!
Shane: It was Christmas eve babe, In the drunk tank
An old man said to me: won't see another one
And then they 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
Where all our dreams come true.

Kirsty: They got cars big as bars, They got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you, It's no place for the old
When you first took my hand on a cold Christmas eve
You promised me Broadway was waiting for me

Shane: You were handsome, you were pretty
Queen of New York City, when the band finished playing they yelled out for more
Sinatra was swinging, all the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner - Then danced through the night.

Both: And the boys from the NYPD choir were singing Galway Bay
And the bells were ringing out for Christmas day.

Kirsty: You're a bum, you're a punk
Shane: You're an old slut on junk
Kirsty: 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.

Both: And the boys of the NYPD choir's still singing Galway Bay
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day.

Shane: I could have been someone
Kirsty: Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me, When I first found you

Shane: I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can't make it out alone
I've built my dreams around you

Both: And the boys of the NYPD choir's still singing Galway Bay
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day.

And if the lyrics weren't sad enough, there's the whole story-after-the-story...

The song was released as a single in late 1987, having appeared on the seminal Pogues record ''If I Should Fall From Grace With God'' and was an instant hit, going to #2 at the time; in years since, it has been voted Britain's 84th best song of all time, the best Christmas song ever - and even been re-released a bunch of times, all with chart success.

And yet, each time, with every listen, the spectre of Kirsty MacColl's useless death looms above it. For those who don't know, she died in 2000, in Mexico, while vacationning with her family. They had gone diving in an area where speed boats weren't allowed to venture, yet one came racing at her son as the family and their guide were surfacing. Her reflexes got the better of her, and she threw her son, Jamie, out of its path, but was hit herself and died instantly.

To this day, uncertainty looms regarding certain facts in her death, namely who was actually driving it (it was millionnaire Guillermo González Nova's boat, but he claims boathand José Cen Yam was actually manning the commands), and punishment for the accident - under Mexican law, Cen Yam took the blame and got to choose between almost three years in jail or a fine of 1034 pesos ($90 in U.S. funds). It would, technically, be conceivable for a millionnaire to give his employee the money to pay the ridiculous fine and walk away scott-free without even a blemish to his name, which led to MacColl's family launched the Justice For Kirsty campaign in response to the events surrounding her death.

So there you have it: the City has such a gloomy air nowadays that a sad Christmas song in which long-time lovers share bitterness and tenderness at once, sung by a drunken waste of talent (MacGowan) and a woman who died a horrible death that could easily have been avoided is the only thing turning the edges of my lips upwards even a little bit.

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