Saturday, December 24, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas Music: Fairytale of New York



This is many people's favorite Christmas song and, as songs go, I think it truly captures the spirit of the season.

I was talking to someone yesterday about how she hates the holidays and I suggested that she may feel differently if she has children. I explained that, for me, seeing Julian get excited about Christmas has done a lot to melt the bitterness I used to feel. I also mentioned that most religions and cultures have some sort of winter holiday involving lots of lights because, obviously, humans need something to make it through these long dark nights. My friend agreed about the light, but said she is resigned to hating this time of year for the rest of her life. I can see her point. As adults, we no longer believe in Santa, we feel overwhelmed with duties and responsibilities, and the nostalgia of the season often serves to remind us of all our childhood dreams which never came true.

This songs is all the more poignant when one considers that in the two decades since this song was released, Shane MacGowan has struggled with addiction and Kirsty MacColl died tragically. But in video, as in memory, they are young forever. Like the narrator at the top of the song, we look to the new year with hope in our hearts, seeing a better time where our dreams come true, and the bells ringing out for Christmas day.

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