The story behind The Pogues' 'Fairytale of New York'

One story pegs Elvis Costello as the original impetus for The Pogues' Fairytale of New York. Another points to the band's manager. Either way, it took Jem Finer and Shane MacGowan two years to write the now-classic anti-Christmas Christmas song. The story behind it is an interesting one. This Polyphonic video tells it.

(Nag on the Lake, Open Culture) Read the rest

Weekend Tunes: The Pogues Live at the Town and Country

The Pogues were my entry point into punk. They caused a massive shift in my understanding of music: they made my growing up to play the mandolin, tenor banjo and bodhran feel cool. The music I played needn't be something from the past. As much as I loved and continue to adore traditional Irish tunes, The Pogues showed 15-year-old me that there was new life in the tunes I knew; new themes to explore. Discovering A Pair of Brown Eyes, Thousands are Sailing and The Broad Majestic Shannon kicked open other musical doors for me. It wasn't too long until my Discman was pushing The Waterboys, The Levellers, Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span into my skull.

I've got fond memories of The Pogues Live at the Town and Country. When I was 18, I skipped my high school prom in favor of shipping off to Halifax. I'd fallen in love with a girl there, the summer previous. She was waiting for me. The relationship smouldered itself out, as flames that burn too hot, too fast, often do. Before we parted ways, she bought Live at the Town and Country on VHS for me as a birthday gift.

I watch it and listened to it until there was nothing left of that tape. Read the rest