Fairytale of New York

Written by Shane MacGowan and Jem Finer


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’
And 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 scum bag
You maggot
You cheap lousy faggot*
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God
It’s our last

The boys of the NYPD choir
Were singing ‘Galway Bay’
And the bells were 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
Were singing ‘Galway Bay’
And the bells were ringing
Out for Christmas Day

* in a recording for the TV programme ‘Top of the Pops’ in the UK (with Shane McGowan), Kirsty changed the lyrics slightly to ‘You scumbag, you maggot, you’re cheap and you’re haggard’ – wording which was later used by Maire Brennan in Ronan Keating’s cover version.The Guardian published a fine piece about the song in 2012.

Fairytale Of New York - The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl - Top Of The Pops

Cover Versions

There are so many of these they have their own series of pages … there are many many more out there!

Follow those links to find straight covers, punk covers, all male vocals, all female vocals, accordions, fiddles, bagpipes, piano solos, guitars solos (we spared you the bass solo but it’s out there ;o), young folks, old folks, Swedish, German, bar- rooms, studios, bedrooms, stages, radio, TV, New York, London, Paris, Munich, talk about … Fairytale of New York — the modern standard.

Fairytale Of New York - Top Of The Pops 1992 - Better Copy

Appearances on Various Artists CDs

‘FAIRYTALE OF NEW YORK’ is obviously enough on ‘Essential Pogues’ (1991) and ‘The Very Best of the Pogues’ (WEA 2001), and also appears on the CD soundtrack from the TV show ‘Ghosts of Oxford Street’ (1991). ‘Tom Dunne’s 30 Best Irish Hits’ (2001 Lunar with Phil Lynott, Undertones, Ash, Horslips). ‘Celtic Inspiration Volume 2’ (Nectar, Eddi Reader, Capercaillie, Van Morrison, Bob Geldof.). ‘Greatest Irish Bands’ (U2, Van Morrison, Thin Lizzy, Clannad), ‘A Hard Night’s Day’ (A History of Stiff Records), an anonymous looking ‘Essential Hits’ set from 2005. ‘Celtica’ volume 4 appears to be a French compilation including Dar Ar Braz, Maire Brennan, La Lugh and the Gordon Highlanders.

It has also appeared on ‘Now That’s What I Call Music Vol. 10’ (1987) and ‘This is the 80s’, one of a recent glut of 80s nostalgia collections which are springing up everywhere. One of those lovely duets albums: ‘Together: 38 Classic All Time Duets & Collaborations ’ (2002 Universal, George Michael & Elton John, Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes, Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston,‘’ Clannad & Bono). Peculiarly it also appears in karaoke form on ‘Italian Love Songs’.

Christmas moments on ‘Number One Christmas Album’ (Global TV 1999), the ‘No.1 Christmas Album’ (1998 Polygram), ‘Christmas Hits (50 Festive Favourites)’ (2003), ‘The Edge of Christmas’ (Oglio 1998), ‘Just Can’t Get Enough (New Wave Xmas)’ on Rhino from 1996, ‘The Ultimate Christmas Collection’ (Polygram 1998), ‘100% Christmas and New Year Party’, ‘That’s Christmas (1994)’ and ‘The Christmas Album ’(BMG RADCD152X) complete with a snow shaker cover. Finally, the ‘DJ’s Guide to Christmas & New Year’s Eve’ …

The video appeared on ‘Video Stars of 1987’ (WNR1087) as well as the Pogues video collection, ‘

Related Pages

Kirsty Songs

Other People's Songs