I had a tricky decision to make here, because I love Slade’s Merry Christmas, and I wanted to play something festive in the run up to the festive season. This song just edges it over Slade because it makes me very emotional – and I can’t pin down why.
Maybe it’s the fact that Kirsty McColl is no longer with us, having died in an accident at sea. Maybe it’s the sentiments expressed in the song, with a lot of emotion. Most of all I think it’s the vocals, which I think complement each other perfectly. Kirsty McColl had a fantastic voice and it was made for this song I think.
I heard an interview with the song’s producer, Steve Lillywhite, yesterday. He’s produced a number of big acts over the years so I knew his name, but didn’t realise he was married to Kirsty at the time this song was recorded. He suggested Kirsty try singing along as a replacement for Cait O’Riordan who was the bassist / vocalist in The Pogues. When Shane McGowan heard Kirsty’s take, he insisted on re-recording all of his!
Oh, and a bit of pop trivia: although the song mentions “the boys from the NYPD choir”, there is no New York Police Department choir.
The second bit of trivia is pretty well known. The Pogues had to change their name from the original “Pogue Mahon” which is Irish Gaelic for “Kiss my a**e” because the likes of the BBC wouldn’t play any of their music otherwise…
So, as the year draws to a close, enjoy this song and have a wonderful festive season.