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Festive fairytale: How The Pogues stole Xmas

It was Christmas day, babe – 1957 – and a child in Pembury, Kent, was born to bring drunken, miserab..

It was Christmas day, babe – 1957 – and a child in Pembury, Kent, was born to bring drunken, miserable cheers to the world.

The baby was Shane MacGowan and, 30 years after his birth, his Celtic punk band The Pogues would release Fairytale Of New York, an anti-Christmas song about lost dreams and disillusionment.

Fast forward another 30 years, and this holiday downer filled with bums, drunks and punks remains a Christmas essential in any half-decent medley. But why?

What makes this tale of a down-on-luck couple cursing in the streets of New York stand side-by-side with Bing Crosby's White Christmas?

Over two years in the making, the song is the band's most famous and, in a way, the most representative of its lead singer.

Written by MacGowan and The Pogues' banjo man Jem Finer, Fairytale was nearly titled Christmas Day In The Drunk Tank, and its action set in Ireland instead of New York.

But MacGowan's fascination for a cinematic version of 1940s America, the film score to Sergio Leone's Once Upon A Time, his admiration for Frank Sinatra and the fact that he was reading JP Donleavy's A Fairy Tale Of New York at the time changed the song forever.

The story thus focused on an Irish immigrant who, on Christmas Eve, is arrested for drunken behaviour and dreams of his long lost love.

The story of how MacGowan and Finer ended up writing a Christmas song is as murky and confusing as the lyrics, with Finer saying it all started with a song about a sailor and MacGowan promising it was all a bet with Elvis Costello.

"He bet us we couldn't come up with a Christmas hit without selling out our street cred," MacGowan said.

"Although we did some other great numbers, and had some other hits, that's the one that people remember, probably because it was a Christmas hit that wasn't all about jingle bells and happy Christmas and all of that s***!"

Image:MacGowan at 19, with his punk rock magazine Bondage in his office in London

Costello initially backed the single, which was originally meant to be performed by MacGowan and Costello's then wife Cait O'Riordan, the band's bassist.

But in 1986 O'Riordan left the band and MacGowan, and an unexpected rendition by singer Kristy MacColl, who was at the time married to the band's new producer, ended up as the final take.

"I was madly in love with Kirsty from the first time I saw her on Top Of The Pops," MacGowan said.

"She was a genius in her own right. She could make a song her own and she made Fairytale her own."

The song's long and convoluted production history tells more about MacGowan than about anyone else in the band, and more than anything else he has ever done.

Behind the worst set of teeth in music history and an addictive personality which would brand him as either "a genius or a f****** idiot", MacGowan hid an extremely perfectionist and creative personality.

"He meant business, much more than before," James Fearnley recalled in his biography.

"It was awe-inspiring to see him in the rehearsal room with his suit on and an attitude."

The Pogues
Image:MacGowan's personality can be seen all over Fairytale's lyrics

MacGowan would later confess to see himself reflected in both Fairytale characters – the man and the woman – one of which was a bum and the other a drunkard.

In the end, the song revolved around MacGowan's persona, his music and film interests and his lifelong fascination with post-war New York.

Fairytale starts with a flashback and goes on to destroy our misconceptions of Christmas time under the mistletoe. It's the ghost of Christmas past and present in their worst possible form, but ends up on a surprising and largely overlooked positive note.

As the man turns to the woman and screams "I could have been someone!", and the woman iconically replies "Well, so could anyone", she then accuses him of stealing her youthful dreams.

"I kept them with me, babe," he then replies, as the song reaches the end.

"I put them with my own. Can't make it all alone – I've built my dreams around you."

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And thus, what seemed like the most depressing Christmas carol ever written ends on a note of hope, love and "bells ringing".

No wonder it's one of the most listened to Christmas songs of all time.

Original Article

The post Festive fairytale: How The Pogues stole Xmas appeared first on News Wire Now.

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So, we guess this means Beyonce and Jay-Z are OK then

The first couple of pop music took the world by surprise by dropping their first album together last..

The first couple of pop music took the world by surprise by dropping their first album together last weekend. As you'd expect, it's a statement.

There is arguably no couple better at controlling their own press than Beyonce and Jay-Z. When a video surfaced in 2014 showing Bey's younger sister Solange attacking her brother-in-law in an elevator, rumours of a strained marriage proliferated.

Rather than battle the tabloids, the spouses used the gossip to fuel the creation of two critically beloved, commercially successful records: Beyonce's Lemonade and Jay-Z's 4:44. And, in them, they offered just as many details about their private lives as they chose.

Beyonce and Jay-Z on stage in France for the 2014 On the Run tour.

Photo: Rob Hoffman

Now the couple have continued their domination of pop music, surprising the world last Saturday by releasing their joint album Everything Is Love, which is something of a sequel to those two solo records. Though they have collaborated for at least 15 years, this marks their first joint album, which they dropped under the name The Carters.

The record is a victory lap from a couple who have mined their relationship for universal truths and then presented them as art. It's a fierce love letter to success, to family, to blackness – but, most of all, to each other.

Artwork for the album Everything is Love by The Carters, aka Beyonce and Jay-Z.

Photo: Karl Quinn


Lyrically, it primarily focuses on two aspects of the Carters' lives: their marriage and their success. (more…)

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Rachel Griffiths: female characters are finally getting real on screen

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Almost a year into the #MeToo era, Rachel Griffiths believes the likes of Mystery Road, Wentworth, Picnic at Hanging Rock and Top of the Lake show that female characters are finally coming of age on Australian screens.

In a spirited speech at the launch of a new state government scheme to support more women directors in television, the actor-turned-director said it was exciting to see female characters move beyond "the typical tropes of 'likable, f—able, adorable'" to "more complex depictions of female experience" recently.

Happy to see "more complex depictions of female experience": Rachel Griffiths (left) with Leah Purcell at the launch of #SheDirects.

Photo: Louie Douvis

While she acknowledged there were male directors who created fresh and compelling women characters, Griffiths said the "male gaze" often reduced them to colouring the characters of their male counterparts.

"[They are created to] make him hot, make him authentic, make him empathetic, make him fatherly, make him conflicted, make him grieve," she said. "In the male gaze, we are so often not the gatekeepers; we're not the ferryman. Sometimes the mentor but usually only ironically, like Judi Dench's M…

"Under-written and under-observed, brought into our sexual awareness precociously and prepubescent in order to accommodate the male libido.


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Griffiths, who is about to begin editing the Melbourne Cup drama Ride Like A Girl after finishing the shoot, endorsed Hollywood star Sandra Bullock's recent comment that it was time for women to "stop being polite" about gender equality. (more…)

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Rachel Maddow breaks down on air over Trump immigration policy

US television host Rachel Maddow has broken down on live air as she delivered the latest development..

US television host Rachel Maddow has broken down on live air as she delivered the latest developments in the Trump administration's controversial "zero tolerance" immigration policy.

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The youngsters are some of the 2,300 children who have been forcibly separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border since the White House announced a zero-tolerance policy on migrant families in May.

"The AP has just broken some new news," Maddow started.

"Um, this has just come out from the Associated Press, this is incredible. Trump administration have been sending babies and other young children – oh, hold on," she said, her voice breaking.


Maddow attempted to get through the breaking news piece one more time before moving the show over to a guest. "To at least three – three tender age shelters in South Texas. Lawyers and medical providers… I think I'm going to have to hand this off. Sorry."

Maddow took to Twitter shortly after the segment aired to say sorry to her viewers. "Again, I apologise for losing it there for a moment," she wrote. "Not the way I intended that to go, not by a mile."

She also tweeted out what she had been trying to say in her live read, writing out what was presented in the AP story. "Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the "tender age" shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis…" she wrote.

"Decades after the nations child welfare system ended the use of orphanages over concerns about the lasting trauma to children, the administration is standing up new institutions to hold Central American toddlers that the government separated from their parents." (more…)

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