Even if the Pogues had only recorded the one song, "Fairy Tale of New York" is enough. It isn't just a good Christmas song, it is one of those near perfect freak masterpieces (and I don't use that term loosely), greater than the sum of its parts. "Be My Baby" good. "Hey Good Lookin'" good. "Anarchy In the UK" good. "Strange Fruit" good. And the best thing about it is that it's not pretty. It's both ugly and and beautiful at the same time. Maybe it's all the symbiotic elements. Then again, maybe it's because it allows fuck ups to have a Christmas song. And by fuck ups, I mean every last one of us. Because, really, to varying degrees in different circumstances, and sometimes at the most unfortunate time, everybody's been a fuck up.
I've posted the song before, but today I found a bunch of good related stuff (that is if you hold the song as near and dear to your heart as I do). The whole story behind it is great. A lot can happen during the gestation of a song, and this one was roughly two years in the making. The circumstances that left it to ferment, as the band did, are a big part of the story. Worth looking into, as they say.
So here's what's down there. First off is the song as we all know it. Then there's the pre-Kristy MacColl early takes (at Plain or Pan). For the fiend elite, there's a documentary about the song (in six parts, at YouTube). There's also a thorough dissection of the recording of it at Sound On Sound, a site for studio geeks and recording industry types.
2/2/2012 NOTE: Due to a notice from Blogger, all links have been removed on this post. I do not yet know which was the offending link, but I know enough to play it safe until I have more details. Sorry for the inconvenience.