Flashback: Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl sing “Fairytale of New York”

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Listen to Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl perform “ Fairy Tale of New York » with the Pogues in 1988.

No one in the history of music has ever looked as decadent (or drunk in whiskey) as Shane MacGowan on “ Fairy Tale of New York “, the Pogues’ Christmas carol first released as a single in 1987. Kirsty MacColl was there to make fun of him: when he sings ” I could have been someone “, she replies “ Like everyone “. The song’s witty repartee and cheerfulness made it an immediate hit in Ireland and a holiday staple.

MacColl only sang the song live with the Pogues a few times before her death in 2000. One of the best performances was at the Town and Country Club in London on St. Patrick’s Day in 1988. She appeared radiant, the men in the audience whistled for her and MacGowan, leaning on the microphone stand, launched the song under fake snow. When the song really gets going, MacColl steps forward and sings his verse, and the two artists trade verses in grand fashion. At the end of the song, MacGowan and MacColl break into an Irish dance.

They sang this song for the first time together on the show Top of the Pops, just before Christmas 1987. MacGowan lip-sung his first verse on the piano while MacColl looked on with gentle eyes. When the music started, they walked to their microphones for a dramatic rendition of the song (you could almost hear Shane MacGowan rolling his eyes).

MacGowan, born on Christmas Day 1957, died on Thursday at the age of 65.


Written by

Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is a dedicated writer and key contributor to the WECB website, Emerson College's student-run radio station. Passionate about music, radio communication, and journalism, Christopher pursues his craft with a blend of meticulous research and creative flair. His writings on the site cover an array of subjects, from music reviews and artist interviews to event updates and industry news. As an active member of the Emerson College community, Christopher is not only a writer but also an advocate for student involvement, using his work to foster increased engagement and enthusiasm within the school's radio and broadcasting culture. Through his consistent and high-quality outputs, Christopher Johnson helps shape the voice and identity of WECB, truly embodying its motto of being an inclusive, diverse, and enthusiastic music community.