It’s now routinely voted everyone’s favourite Christmas song but back in the day it could only chart at number 2 and I’m sure that it wasn’t until the mid to late nineties – a decade after its release – that Fairytale of New York really became established as the yuletide song it’s okay to love.
There aren’t many genuine dialogue songs – as opposed to the more standard duets – out there in the first place, let alone a dialogue that despite its setting has almost universal appeal. And then there’s the fact that the exchanges are note perfect with a special mention for: I could have been someone / Well so could anyone. Of course, there’s also the extra poignancy that Kirsty MacColl is no longer with us to sing her lines whilst Shane MacGowan somehow still is.
And finally it’s the fact that Fairytale doesn’t try and wrap everything up either nicely or bitterly. The boys from the NYPD choir are still singing Galway Bay (and I’m willing to bet that virtually none of the student drinkers raising a glass as they sing along have a clue what that is) whilst our couple fade into the background, their hidden lives continuing. It’s a rare example of pop song as poetry.
Plus, of course, it’s an excellent tune and a fantastic song to join in with. So pick a character and let’s go …