Fairytale of New York

Album: If I Should Fall From Grace With God (1987)
Charted: 2
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  • It was Christmas Eve babe
    In the drunk tank
    An old man said to me, won't see another one
    And then he 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
    When all our dreams come true

    They've got cars big as bars
    They've 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

    You were handsome
    You were pretty
    Queen of New York City
    When the band finished playing
    They howled out for more
    Sinatra was swinging
    All the drunks they were singing
    We kissed on a corner
    Then danced through the night

    The boys of the NYPD choir
    Were singing Galway Bay
    And the bells were ringing out
    For Christmas day

    You're a bum
    You're a punk
    You're an old slut on junk
    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

    The boys of the NYPD choir
    Still singing Galway Bay
    And the bells are ringing out
    For Christmas day

    I could have been someone
    Well so could anyone
    You took my dreams from me
    When I first found you
    I kept them with me babe
    I put them with my own
    Can't make it all alone
    I've built my dreams around you

    The boys of the NYPD choir
    Still singing Galway Bay
    And the bells are ringing out
    For Christmas day Writer/s: Jem Finer, Shane Patrick Lysaght Macgowan
    Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 31

  • Jt from Philadelphia, PaSorry, it was The Rare Old Mountain Dew, and not Galway Bay, which was heard in the drunk tank. That is probably even less likely in a 1950s NYC drunk tank.
    The line about rivers of gold also suggests that they never made it to New York.
  • Jt from Philadelphia, PaRe "James from Crawley, United Kingdom
    Does anyone realise that Shane is English not Irish, he was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent South East England.
    In Fact most of the band are English."

    We might be speaking two different languages here, so to speak, but:
    I believe that Shane McGowan is ethnically Irish. I am as well. I know how it works:-). That is why someone might call him Irish. It isn't because he was born in Ireland or not born in England. I've always known he was born in England, and I would always have described him as Irish. Absolutely no offense/offence intended!
    His being Irish probably explains his interest in Irish music. It does.mine.
    Of course, one does not have to be ethnically Irish or Irish-born to perform Irish music or love Irish music.
  • Jt from Philadelphia, PaI find the view of The Page Collective of New York to be quite insightful, however depressing it may be.
    However, the singer of Galway Bay was Bing Crosby, a huge American star of the 1950's. I think my parents had that album (in Philadelphia). (We are an Irish(-American) family, though). So the thought of Galway Bay being sung in a 1950s New York drunk tank never struck me as something that couldn't happen. I wish that was enough to cause me to question your interpretation.
    I've enjoyed "Fairytale of New York" for decades, as I purchased the album, "If I Should Fall from Grace with God" (?), soon after it's release. (Fairytale of New York is not widely known in the U.S.).
    Frankly, I wish I had not researched the song's meaning. I thought it was just an upbeat, happy song about a couple that had had their troubles, but had reconciled. No worries. I'll push this bad news out of my mind soon enough.
    But I don't know if I'd call it a Christmas song. That's like calling Die Hard a Christmas movie. (That's another debate).
  • The Page Collective from New YorkThey never made it New York. He won a bunch of money. They drank and drugged it all away, while concocting this big fairytale of their life in New York. Broadway and all that. They ran through the money. They fought as addicts will do when the easy fix is gone. She blamed him for taking dreams away that she had invented with him. He wakes up in an Irish drunk tank still grasping at the fairytale. They never left Ireland. He wakes up and a guy is singing an Irish tune. There is no NYPD choir, never was. It was all a drunken fantasy they were never going to see through.
  • Sioraf from Macroon, IrelandIt would be an Irish band that would write possibly the most depressing Christmas song ever; at least 2000 miles ends happily. Still great song and unlike Saint Etienne Shane Mac Gowan really was born on Christmas day.
  • Mark from Portsmouth, United KingdomPetter from Sweden. Shane Macgowan did not write 'Thousands are sailing'.
  • Paul from Newtonmore, United KingdomDon't forget the song Galway Bay wasn't written till after the Second World War. This is a contemporary song not a historic one, though obviously it has echoes...
  • Jim from Long Beach, CaGreat song!! I love The Pogues. RIP Kristie!!
  • James from Crawley, United KingdomDoes anyone realise that Shane is English not Irish, he was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent South East England.
    In Fact most of the band are English.
  • Gaza from Edinburgh, United KingdomI love this song sooo much. It is so heartbreaking. How many ppl agree wi me that it is ironic that, although it is thought the greatest xmas song ever, it is actually a song about a tragic, penniless couple whose dreams were destroyed by drug-addiction and poverty? No one really listens to the song. I have had to explain the meaning of the lyrics plenty of times to my friends. It is so sad.
  • Michael from Long Beach, CaThis song has brought me from angry to happy to sad and happy again and again. I think I would like to move to Ireland and reclaim my Irish ancestry. I will do what the Irish do, 'have another one'. Here's to Shane and the RIP Kirsty...
  • Charles from Glenside, PaI don't know if I'd call this my favorite song ever, but it sure as hell is close. It is so Beautifully written and arranged. One would have a hard time finding another song as painfully heartbreaking, and yet so hilarious at the same time as this one.
  • Rob from Lincoln, England'I turned my face away and dreamed about you'; heartbreaking. Truly a great, great song. Recently here in the UK the BBC tried to censor the song to remove the words 'slut' and 'faggot'. Overwhelming public opposition drove them to remove the edit and the song played on BBC radio in its original form.
  • Joe from Dublindylan, from sydney... close but no donut... Póg = Kiss; Mo = My; Thóin! = Arse!

    Póg Mo Thóin... not "pogue mahoge"
  • Erik from Bloomfield Hills, MiWhy wasn't this a hit in America? Americans are so closed-minded when it comes to music.
  • Gv31d03x94b from Gv31d03x94b, CaIn response to - "they've got cars big as bars"
    cars + bars are both called saloons

    From Wikipedia

    The Story of Fairytale of New York (2005) (TV)(BBC)

    BBC - Radio 2 - Sold On Song - TOP 100 - Fairytale Of New York
  • Lobstarock from Boston, MaLook for Matt Dillon, in a cameo as the policeman, in the video.
  • Helen from Newcastle, AustraliaLike others, this is a Christmas that we don't want to think about. Born in Ireland and, as a child, I can remember an old (to me) woman asking me for a penny. I was a child and didn't have a penny to give her, but such is poverty, in any country. Each time I play this song I remember that old woman - and then do the Irish thing: 'have another one'.
  • Petter from Ã?ngelholm, SwedenI'm kinda fascinated of The Pogues' obsession with irish people travelling to the US. my favourite on this theme has to be their song "Thousands are sailing". there MacGowan's songwriting truly stands out... again...
  • Niall from Ireland, IrelandAbsolutely the greatest Christmas song ever written and a true highlight that for all his sins Shane McGowan is above all a remarkable songwriter
  • Darren from Warrington, EnglandThis year on TV they were going through the video, and the funny thing is that in the video you see "the boys from NYPD choir singing Galway Bay". There is no NYPD choir, and the band that was in the video had never heard the song Galway Bay, so ended up playing the Mickey Mouse Club song instead!
  • Dylan from Sydney, United Statesthe Pogues means the kisses in galic the sentince is pogue mahoge wich means kiss my arse
  • Paul from Galway, Irelandit's a song that when you hear you mourn for Kirsty McColl. She was so talented. Sad song. Brilliant. Irish lyrics - "you cheap, lousy faggot." so irish. "galway bay," I LIVE THERE. I'm part of the song. UP THE IRISH
  • Rocco from Naples, ItalyEven if it's got NY in the title, whenever i listen to this song i go back with my mind in Dublin, and i rememeber of the Liffey river, of Phoenix Park, of Trinity college, of St. Stephen's green, of the temple bar and so on...I'm an italian but i love Irish people and Ireland and i miss it so much: that's the power of music
  • Brian from Philadelphia, Paand the boys from the NYPD choir were singing Galway Bay -

    Irish music from a very Irish profession
  • Brian from Fullerton (the Paris Of Oc), CaThis song breaks my heart every time.
  • Paul from Salford, Englandthink Adam is confusing this with Thousands Are Sailing off the same album
    Paul, Manchester
  • George from Bristol, Englandeasily the best christmas song ever - possibly on of the best SONGS ever - brilliant band, easily the best record for xmas ever.
  • Miguel from Dublin, IrelandWithout doubt the greatest Christmas song. With an added poignancy now after the death of Kirsty McColl
  • Craig from Madison, WiOne of my all time favorite Christmas songs. When I first heard this song, I demanded the tape be rewound so I could hear it again, and again and again. 4 times I heard that song in my first sitting, and over a decade later it still excites me every time I hear it. Even though it goes through so many emotions (bliss, melancholy, bitterness) it only makes me giddy, just like a Christmas song should.
  • Gretchen from Glen Mills, PaIn response to Adam's enlightening songfact - "they've got cars big as bars" might indicate at least early 20th-century New York. "Sinatra was swinging," again, implies that the context of the song is somewhat later.
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