Pogues Singer Shane MacGowan Responds To Calls To Censor 'Fairytale Of New York'

The Pogues' 1987 track 'Fairytale of New York' may have never reached number one when it was released, but in the decades that followed it became a firm Christmas favourite, leaving many to believe it might just be the ultimate festive tune.

But it's not your average Christmas song; while others include anecdotes about rocking around Christmas trees or Santa Claus coming to town, 'Fairytale of New York' revels in drunkenness and debauchery - and includes language to reflect that.

But while words like 'scumbag' and 'maggot' are merely mean terms, 'f*****' is decidedly more loaded, and has become the source of a great deal of contention - with many now calling for the word to be censored.

As Christmas rolls around again, so, too, does the debate - but now Pogues singer Shane MacGowan has issued his response, saying: "The word was used by the character because it fitted with the way she would speak with her character. She is not supposed to be a nice person, or even a wholesome person.

"She is a woman of a certain generation at a certain time in history and she is down on her luck and desperate.

Many are calling for the word 'f\*\*\*\*\*' to be censored'. Credit: Pogue Mahone Records
Many are calling for the word 'f*****' to be censored'. Credit: Pogue Mahone Records

"Her dialogue is as accurate as I could make it but she is not intended to offend! She is just supposed to be an authentic character and not all characters in songs and stories are angels or even decent and respectable, sometimes characters in songs and stories have to be evil or nasty in order to tell the story effectively.

"If people don't understand that I was trying to accurately portray the character as authentically as possible then I am absolutely fine with them bleeping the word but I don't want to get into an argument."

But not everyone agrees with MacGowan, with one person tweeting: "The F-word should be bleeped out of Fairytale of New York. It's homophobic, it's offensive and it's a word that is no longer acceptable in public discourse. Just because you like the song doesn't mean it should get an exception."

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Others have also used the debate to question other lyrics in the song, with a Twitter user pointing out: "I get the yearly backlash to 'cheap lousy faggot' in Fairytale of New York but I find it very weird that everyone's just ok with 'you're an old slut on junk'."

In fact, that point is also something that hasn't gone unnoticed - back in 2007 Radio 1 banned the words 'f*****' and 's***' from being broadcast as part of the song, which they said was to 'avoid offence'.

According to NME, the mother of 'Fairytale of New York' singer Kirsty MacColl referred to the ban as 'too ridiculous', while the Pogues said they found it 'amusing'.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Jess Hardiman

Jess Hardiman is a journalist who graduated from Manchester University with a BA in Film Studies, English Language and Literature, and has previously worked for Time Out and The Skinny among others.

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