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The Fairy Tale of New Year’s Music

Written by Nick Leitzke

The holiday season is behind us, but I continue to dwell on it because that’s what I do. Every year a friend of mine makes a holiday mix. What astounds me is his persistence. Year after year he fills a CD to capacity with Christmas music. The mix for 2009 has twenty-one tracks with artists as varied as Parenthetical Girls, Minus 5, Julian Casablancas, the Sky Drops, and Badly Drawn Boy. Telekinesis appears with a great cover of “Father Christmas,” and Glasvegas makes me a quivering mass of emotions with “A Snowflake Fell (And It Felt Like a Kiss).” These mixes are always spectacular, which leads me to wonder how my friend finds so much Christmas music every year. Where does he find this stuff? More to the point, though, why do people write and record so much Christmas music? My friend is persistent in his efforts to find new Christmas music, but people make it very easy for him to accomplish his mission.

This brings me to my point. How come there isn’t nearly as much New Year’s music as there is Christmas music? There are thousands of Christmas songs out there, traditionally religious and secularly festive alike. As for New Year’s songs only two come to mind – “Auld Lang Syne,” of course, and “Fairytale of New York,” by the Pogues. Two against a few thousand, but the two win because “Fairytale of New York” is such a great song.

“Fairytale of New York” isn’t powerful because it’s a traditional New Year’s song celebrating the oncoming inevitable while saying farewell to all the good and bad things of the past. It’s a traditional song no doubt, but it’s a traditional Irish song. It’s a song about Irish immigrants coming to America to find a new life, a fairytale life, but losing themselves along the way. Instead of the fairytale they’re mired in their self-destructive vices. They hate each other over the course of the song, calling each other ‘slut’ and ‘faggot,’ but the closing lines make you wish this thing could work out. “You took my dreams from me…I put them with my own/Can’t make it all alone/I built my dreams around you.” All they have is each other, and maybe that traditional New Year’s sentiment is what makes me love this song. As crummy as life turned out to be, there’s still a humble chance to make it. Forget the pain of the past as we dive into the ever expanding unknown of the future. This life stinks, but we’ll make it if we don’t give up on ourselves. One New Year’s song against an array of Christmas music that grows exponentially by the minute. I think “Fairytale of New York” prevails.

Hold on a second. I’m getting a call from the peanut gallery. What? It’s ‘Christmas Eve in the drunk tank,’ not ‘New Year’s Eve in the drunk tank?’ Another crummy Christmas song? Crap! Forget I said anything.

Posted by admin   @   1 January 2010
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