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20 December 2019 00:38

Shane MacGowan The Late Late Show Raidió Teilifís Éireann

THERE ARE few songs that stir up memories of Christmas in Ireland quite like The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl's Fairytale of New York. A reminder of happy times in warm, cosy pubs surrounded by friends and family, one of the most unique aspects of the song is the way it still feels fresh all these years later. Much of the credit for that goes to both MacGowan, the rest of The Pogues and, of course, MacColl herself. While MacGowan and Jem Finer's lyrics remain as timeless and captivating as ever, MacGowan's vocal style is both unmistakably Irish and effortlessly cool. But if he represents the brains behind the song, MacColl is undoubtedly the heart, with the much-missed vocalist giving the song its rousing anthemic quality.

Combine these elements alongside the music of The Pogues themselves and you have the perfect recipe for the greatest Christmas song of all time. Part of what makes Fairytale of New York such an enduring prospect too is the fact it doesn't feel like a Christmas song. It's not a cynical attempt at cashing in on the festive season while the central themes conjured up by MacGowan's lyrics and the back-and-forth between the two vocalists are as enduring as ever. Proof of its universal appeal came all the way back in 1988, when The Pogues and MacColl got together to perform the song at Kentish Town Forum in London. Coming on St Patrick's Day of all times, it is fair to say that the Guinness was flowing that night.

But despite the fact the song is performed on St Paddy's Day of all times, it remains as unforgettable as ever with MacGowan at his incomprehensible best alongside the ever-reliable MacColl. Advertisement Watching this magical performance back again is both heartwarming and tinged with sadness, knowing that the same magic will never be recreated. Yet there is a sense that somehow MacColl wouldn't want fans to mourn her premature departure but rather celebrate the great things she did and good times she had. So Happy Christmas… Singer/Songwriter Kirsty MacColl was killed 19 years ago this week Many may only know her voice from hearing The Pogues' Fairytale of New York, but beyond that timeless tune, Kirsty MacColl's career as a singer and songwriter was as full and respected as you're bound to hear of. She was lost to us, at the age of 41, close to two decades ago, this week. While on holiday in Mexico with her partner and children, MacColl was killed, and by some accounts murdered while on a diving excursion, off the coast of Cozumel. According to the Irish Post, a boat entered the warded-off area where MacColl was surfacing from a scuba dive, at high speed, striking her light out of this world. She'd still be with us if she hadn't, as a final act, pushed her 15-year old son out of the path of the speeding boat. The vessel belonged to a Mexican multimillionaire. When's there's money had, a coverup may be bought: It's rumored that the boat's owner was the one driving it when MacColl was killed. However, one of his employees was paid to take the fall for him. Fortunately, her music lives on. In this documentary, the BBC explores MacColl's career with insights from Shane MacGowan, Billy Bragg, Johnny Marr, Bono, French & Saunders and Steve Lillywhite.