Sunday 19 November 2017

Kim Bielenberg: You scumbag, you maggot - how Fairytale of New York has stood the test of time

GATHER around by the tree, children, and we’ll sing the words of Britain and Ireland’s favourite Christmas song: "You scumbag, you maggot. You cheap lousy faggot, Happy Christmas your arse, I pray God it’s our last."

When it was released 25 years ago, the lyrics of the Pogues song Fairytale of New York did not make it an obvious candidate to become a classic, sung at Christmas parties and played ad nauseam at supermarket tills.

BBC Radio 1 dubbed out the words “faggot” and “slut” from the song’s broadcasts on its release, because they were deemed offensive. The opening line hardly seemed destined to inspire festive cheer: “It was Christmas Eve, babe, in the drunk tank…”

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