Fairytale goes beyond just the Irish experience

Greatest Christmas song ever? ~ How it was written ~ Painful birth of classic ~ Shane as Sinatra
Producer Steve Lillywhite ~ Kirsty MacColl vocals ~ Kirsty MacColl stage fright
Unofficial NYPD choir ~ Lure of Big Apple ~ Not just for the Irish ~ Alternative Christmas
Most played Christmas song ~ Lyrics censored ~ The video ~ Lyrics and chords

Fairytale of New York tells the story of two Irish immigrants whose dream of success in the big city turned sour.

However, the novelist and political historian Peter Quinn, believes that the resonance of the song goes far beyond the purely Irish experience.

St. Patrick Parade, Fifth Ave, New York, 1909

St. Patrick Parade, Fifth Ave, New York, 1909

Quinn told the BBC documentary, Beyond the Fairytale: “The Irish were in the vanguard of immigration in the 19th century but it became a rollout experience. It’s not an Irish experience anymore and I think that’s why a lot of non-Irish people relate to the song.

Final-version

“So many people have come to America with the expectations that success will be instant and they’ll be welcomed. They’re often in for a bitter surprise. It can be a wonderful place, it can give opportunities you can’t find elsewhere but a lot of people fall by the wayside and don’t get remembered.

“The people who get remembered are the ones who made it to the goal line. The ones who get forgotten are the ones who wind up in jail, drunk tanks, or as drug addicts.

Song hits a nerve with many immigrants

Postcard St Patricks Day Souvinir 1912

Postcard St Patrick’s Day Souvinir 1912

“It can be a harsh country and I think of the drunk tank and the old men. The song touches on something very real in the immigrant experience. I would even have members of my own family a generation or two back who weren’t among what we call the successful people, one of whom died in a doorway in August 1911 from heat exhaustion and alcohol.

“This one line got me  – rivers of gold – because it was said of the Irish in the 1840s that they had this myth that the streets of New York were paved with gold. They found out when they got here that they weren’t paved with gold; they weren’t paved at all and they were expected to pave them.”

Greatest Christmas song ever? ~ How it was written ~ Painful birth of classic ~ Shane as Sinatra
Producer Steve Lillywhite ~ Kirsty MacColl vocals ~ Kirsty MacColl stage fright
Unofficial NYPD choir ~ Lure of Big Apple ~ Not just for the Irish ~ Alternative Christmas
Most played Christmas song ~ Lyrics censored ~ The video ~ Lyrics and chords

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