An anthem for all our Christmases

An anthem for all our Christmases

Fairytale of New York, a ballad made even more poignant by the tragic death of Kirsty MacColl, draws on the nostalgia and melancholic heartbeat of generations of Irish exiles

Thirty years since it was first recorded, the extraordinary ballad Fairytale of New York has for many people become the overture to Christmas. Written by Shane McGowan, performed by McGowan and the late Kirsty MacColl, it is a journey from darkness into light, a compelling synthesis of dejection and ecstasy.

It’s also an extraordinary musical pastiche, given that the song wasn’t really about Christmas or New York in the first place. It was recorded in...

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