Musical Tuesday – Christmas Eve

It was Christmas Eve babe, in the drunk tank…

Yes, it’s Christmas Eve, and while I am not currently incarcerated in a drunk tank it’s an essential part of my festive season to make sure I dust off my copy of the Pogues’ (featuring Kirsty MacColl) Fairytale of New York (1987) and give it a spin (virtually speaking – clicking on it in iTunes doesn’t have quite the same ring).

Exactly why an Irish ballad about drunks, failed relationships and broken dreams should feel so quintessentially Christmasy has always puzzled me. But there’s no denying that it does. And a lot of people seem to agree. It’s been voted the best Christmas song of all time on numerous occasions, and re-enters the charts every December, over 25 years since it’s release.

Its enduring popularity however is not without controversy – chiefly over it’s use of the word “faggot”. It has been claimed that in Ireland the word traditionally means someone who’s lazy, but this hasn’t stopped numerous attempts at censorship, including by BBC Radio 1 who blanked the word (along with ‘slut’) for several hours in 2007 before public outrage forced them to change their minds.

Our second selection this week is Twisted Sister with We’re Not Gonna Take It (1984). It’s particularly well known for it’s video clip featuring Mark Metcalf more or less reprising his role of Neidermeyer from the movie National Lampoon’s Animal House.

By now you’re no doubt saying “Denys, that’s a great song and all, but what in the name of all that’s sane and holy has it got to do with Christmas?”. Well, let’s try a little experiment shall we? Sing with me mi amigos! We’re not gonna take it! No! We ain’t gonna take it! Did you sing along? Be honest, you didn’t did you? C’mon it’s not going to work unless you do!

Let’s try again. We’re not gonna take it! No! We ain’t gonna take it! Well, I have no way to tell if you did or not, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. So, now sing it again, but with some different lyrics. Come all ye faithful! Joyful and triumphant! See!? See!? It’s exactly the same tune!!

This is not some great revelation. Dee Snider has never made any attempt to conceal the fact that he borrowed the tune. It’s just an interesting little musical factoid that many people have never noticed, despite it being hidden in plain sight.

So that’s it for this festive edition of Musical Tuesday. A merry culturally appropriate festive celebration to all, and to all a good applicable time of day!

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