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Tuesday, December 18, 2007


The horror of Shane McGowan. Have his teeth finally just given up and fallen out?

Thanks to the lovely Red Stapler for alerting me to this one. It looks like the word "faggot" is being censored from the Pogues' classic "Fairytale of New York," a heartwarming Yuletide ditty told from the point of view of lush thrown into the drunk tank and featuring an unsavory reminiscence of the lout having an insult fight with his equally sleazy girlfriend, described in the song as "a slut on junk." Sure "faggot" is offensive, but considering the context of the song I'd say it's acceptable for the squalid narrative. I'd have the same opinion if "nigger" had been instead been used, so there. Here are the lyrics so judge for yourself, and then read the following news article.


It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won't see another one
And then he sang a song
The Rare Old Mountain Dew
I turned my face away
And dreamed about you

Got on a lucky one
Came in eighteen to one
I've got a feeling
This year's for me and you
So happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true

They've got cars big as bars
They've got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you
It's no place for the old
When you first took my hand
On a cold Christmas Eve
You promised me
Broadway was waiting for me

You were handsome
You were pretty
Queen of New York City
When the band finished playing
They howled out for more
Sinatra was swinging,
All the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner
Then danced through the night

The boys of the NYPD choir
Were singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day

You're a bum
You're a punk
You're an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God it's our last

I could have been someone
Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can't make it all alone
I've built my dreams around you

(copyright 1988 Shane MacGowan & Jem Finer)

Not exactly "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," is it? Anyway, from the BBC News:


BBC Radio 1 has said it will stand by its ban on the word "faggot" from the Pogues' 1987 Christmas hit Fairytale of New York to avoid offence. The word, sung by the late Kirsty MacColl as she trades insults with Shane MacGowan, has been dubbed out. But MacColl's mother, Jean, called the ban "too ridiculous", while the Pogues said they found it "amusing".

The BBC said: "We are playing an edited version because some members of the audience might find it offensive." A Radio 1 spokeswoman said the station's management had met on Tuesday morning to discuss the issue. She said they "had made their decision" and would not be going back on it. But the ban does not apply across the BBC. Radio 2 said it would be playing the full version of the track.

MacColl, who was killed by a speedboat off the coast of Mexico in 2000, brands Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan "you scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot" in the song, which reached number two when it was first released. She continues: "Happy Christmas your arse, I pray God it's our last." Another line, where MacGowan calls MacColl "an old slut on junk", has also been edited.

Jean MacColl told BBC Radio 5 Live's Breakfast: "These are a couple of characters - not in the first flush of youth, I would have thought. This is the way they spoke. Today we have a lot of a gratuitous vulgarity and whatever from people all over which I think is quite unnecessary. They are what they are. These are characters and they speak like that."

A spokesman for the Pogues, who first formed in 1982 and reunited in 2001 after a five-year break, said they "found it amusing that a song that has been one of the best-loved Christmas tunes should suddenly have been deemed offensive".

Listeners have also been criticising the ban on the Radio 1 Newsbeat website. Denise Venn said it was "a complete over-reaction" and Simon from Southampton called it "political correctness gone mad". Dean in Southampton added: "I'm gay and it certainly doesn't offend me. I find it more offensive that the BBC has tampered with this track which hopefully will be number one this Christmas."

However, veteran gay rights activist Peter Tatchell said Radio 1's actions were right. "The word faggot is being sung as an insult, alongside scumbag and maggot. In this abusive context it is unacceptable," he said. "It is shameful that BBC Radio 2 and other radio and TV stations are continuing to play the full version with the word faggot included. It shows that they don't take homophobic language as seriously as racist language."

Shane McGowan: drinking like a fish so you don't have to.


Jared said...

"The word faggot is being sung as an insult, alongside scumbag and maggot. In this abusive context it is unacceptable,"

—So remember to always use the word "faggot" as a compliment and everything will be alright!

John Bligh said...


"So remember to always use the word "faggot" as a compliment and everything will be alright!"

No problem, Jared, you faggot...

Yuk yuk...

I kid. You ain't no fag. Just a damned long-haired hippie!