Released just before Christmas in 1987, The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York was sent straight to Number 2 in the charts.
The Pogues are a punk band, fronted by the late Shane MacGowan. The Pogues have an interesting history themselves, but Fairytale of New York has an interesting history too.
Whilst not released as a single until 1987, the track had been in the works since 1985. The long-development time was down to a few issues – losing its original female vocalist being one of them.
The story behind how the song came to fruition has always been disputed. MacGowan’s version was that the band producer, Elvis Costello, didn’t believe the band could produce a Christmas hit single. However, the band’s manager Frank Murray, said that the idea was his as he believed the band would have success with a Christmas hit. I like to think the former is the true story!
Whilst it’s never been a Number 1, Fairytale of New York has been in the top 20 charts 20 times and features across tens of thousands of Spotify Christmas playlists.
It’s one of my favourite songs because I am a sucker for duets. It was also a song my dad played and sang in the car every Christmas and I like to reminisce.
After Shane MacGowan’s recent passing (November 2023), many artists shared their experiences with the artist. Bruce Springsteen said the “passion and deep intensity of MacGowan’s music and lyrics is unmatched by all but the very best in the rock and roll canon… I don’t know about the rest of us, but they’ll be singing Shane’s songs 100 years from now”.
He’s not wrong. Fairytale of New York will be played for decades to come.