Documentary reveals Shane MacGowan ‘really fancied’ Kirsty MacColl

A new RTÉ documentary reveals that the Pogues' frontman Shane MacGowan ‘really fancied’ his 'Fairytale of New York' co-star Kirsty MacColl

A fascinating documentary about Shane MacGowan reveals that the star had a crush on his ‘Fairytale of New York’ co-lead singer Kirsty MacColl. The Pogues’ frontman wrote the classic Christmas song with bandmate Jem Finer.

Singer-songwriter Kirsty MacColl was married to producer Steve Lillywhite, and was the perfect choice to perform the female parts of the duet.

A new RTÉ documentary reveals that the Pogues' frontman Shane MacGowan ‘really fancied’ his 'Fairytale of New York' co-star Kirsty MacColl

In a new RTÉ documentary which looks at the making of the song, MacGowan’s family and friends reveal that he developed a soft spot for MacColl.

MacGowan’s sister Siobhan said: “Shane liked Kirsty a lot, in lots of different ways. They got on very, very well. Kirsty would be Shane’s type of girl; ballsy and down-to-earth and gave as good as she got.”

The documentary makers also made MacGowan a little uncomfortable by putting the question to him in front of his wife Victoria Mary Clarke. Victoria said: “I guess I was jealous of Kirsty with good reason because Shane really fancied her as well, didn’t you?”

Shane replied: “Yeah. Cait (O’Riordan) originally did the female part and she was very good but Kirsty was better.”

Victoria added: “You kind of got the sense from Kirsty she felt that way about somebody.”

Kirsty’s son, Louis Lillywhite, said his mother had a lot in common with the character she voiced in te song.

He said: “She was very involved. She was a great Mum. I think music was in her DNA from her dad Ewan MacColl, a famously socialist songwriter.

“I think the character she played in the song was very representative of the kind of person she was. She was incredibly feisty, quite brutal at times but in a very honest, very good way.

“She didn’t let people walk all over her.

“I think my mum and Shane did gel well together. I don’t think to be honest she would have worked with anyone for so long if they didn’t gel well.”

Jem Finer told how Steve Lillywhite got his wife involved in the recording of the song after bringing it home for the weekend.

Finer said: “He took the tapes home and brought them back after the weekend and said, ‘Ok, I asked Kirsty to sing on the recording as a guide’.

“But I think he was more canny than that, I’m convinced he knew Kirsty was the woman to sing the song. So he put it on and it was a no-brainer. This was not a guide, this was it.”

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By Michael Kehoe

Michael Kehoe is a writer for Irish Music Daily and Ireland Calling. His favourite Irish Music bands are Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys.