If You Do Fairytale Of New York, You Have to Dance with Me and Kirsty
As The Pogues re-release the only Christmas hit everyone loves year after year,Shane MacGowan remembers the late and unforgettable Kirsty MacColl
THE duet has become one of the greatest Christmas pop songs of all time . . . but Shane MacGowan has revealed he didn't even sing it with Kirsty MacColl until long after the single was made.
Instead, Kirsty recorded her vocals at home after the rest of the track had been done by Shane and the band in the studio with Kirsty's ex-husband and legendary producer Steve Lillywhite.
When the pair finally met up to sing the song - after the record's release - the chemistry between them helped enhance its status as an instant classic.
It became a No.2 hit in 1987 but has remained a huge favourite.
Shane, enjoying a few drinks in his favourite London boozer,The Boogaloo, recalled: "It has become one of those songs everyone has come to know.
"I remember singing it with Kirsty. I sang it with the band in the studio then Kirsty did her bit at home.We didn't even rehearse the song beforehand.
"She didn't need to because she was brilliant at what she did."
Although Kirsty suffered from stage fright, it was Shane who helped her overcome it on tour with The Pogues in 1988.
"My fondest memory is dancing with Kirsty whenever we did the song or got together," he laughed.
"When you do a song with me, you have to dance.You have no choice." The single, constantly voted the best Christmas hit ever, is being re-released on December 18 to coincide with the fifth anniversary of Kirsty's tragic death when she was hit by a speedboat while swimming at the Mexican resort of Cozumel.
The Pogues hope the re-release will turn the spotlight on the Mexican authorities, who have finally agreed to re-investigate the singer's death.
This follows pressure from the Justice For Kirsty Campaign run by Kirsty's mum Jean, 82.
Proceeds from the record will be donated to the campaign and the homeless charity Crisis At Christmas. But it's not about raising money.
Kirsty, who also had a hit with They Don't Know and There's A Boy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis, left L1.6 million in her will which was divided between her partner, James McKnight, her mum, brother Hamish and two sons Jamie, 20, and Louis, 18.
The boys, who were in the water with Kirsty when she died, were later paid L385,000 in compensation from the firm which owned the boat.
Deckhand Jose Cen Yamwasfined L61 for causing her death. But Kirsty's family suspect the son of a wealthy supermarket ownerwas actually steering the boat at the time and should be charged with homicide.
The campaign obtained evidence that Cem Yam was not at the wheel and believes potential witnesses were reluctant to testify against an important family.
They have received strong support from the Foreign Office and the British ambassador to Mexico.
The new inquiry could lead to the prosecution for perjury of the Mexican supermarket tycoon Guillermo Gonzalez Nova, who owned the boat that killed Kirsty.
Pogues member Spider Stacy said: "The single release isn't about making money. It's about justice for Kirsty. Jean has spent the last five years trying to get at the truth and she is making good headway.
"But the guy in question is one of the richest men in Mexico and is able to buy the best lawyers.
"When I first heard of this campaign, I didn't see the point.
"It's an uphill task and Jean is an old lady. But I was wrong.
"She is getting close to finding justice for Kirsty."
Kirsty was just 41 when she died and Shane remembers her fondly.
"She was a great dancer, a great singer and a great person," he said.
"I danced with her lots. If you do Fairytale Of New York, you have to dance with me."
Spider added: "She became a great friend of ours and was an amazing person and a very talented singer and songwriter.
"Besides all that, she was a wonderful human being and her death was a tragedy.
"It was at Christmas. "She was on holiday and she died saving her kids."
The band, who originally formed in 1982 as Pogue Mahone, will be performing the song when they go tour with a guest vocalist.
Shane, Spider, Jem Finer, Philip Chevron, Darryl Hunt, Andrew Ranken,Terry Woods and James Fearnley play the Glasgow Academy on December 13 and 14.
The gigs will celebrate almost 25 years of The Pogues. In June, the group's second album, Rum, Sodomy&The Lash won the Mojo Honours List 2005 Classic Album Award.
Spider said: "We started at the tail end of punk and had a punk ethic, but it was nothing we could write on aT-shirt. Shane had been in a really good band called The Nips and we met them."
Shane, who left The Pogues in the Nineties and formed The Popes, added: "My early music was early punk, inspired by the likes of Joy Division back in 1976.
"I was having a great time.
Everyone started a band in those days.The previous bands were great fun but all imploded. One of my ex-bandmates went off to follow the hippy trail after taking too much heroin.
"Post-punk was mellow and I had known all these guys a long time.We got together and we were immediately hip. Music is a great leveller. It doesn't matter where you were or where you are going or where you are."
Jem continued: "Before I joined The Pogues, I'd never even played an instrument, having grown up being told I was tone deaf.
"Then punk made anything possible.Without punk, there would have been no Pogues."
It's only fitting that Shane should be responsible for one of the world's favourite Christmas songs, regardless of his punk roots.
He was born on Christmas Day, 1957, and has a spirit which burns bright despite reported drugs and drinks problems.
Before our chat is over, he even has time to pretend he is smarting over the fact that he wasn't invited on to I'm A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out Of Here.
He joked: "They've had a Sex Pistol on in John Lydon. People like me and John Lydon have experienced a lot worse than that.
"That's why John did so well because he turned it into the Mr Lydon show. And he's from Galway and the Irish are better at surviving extreme situations.
"Anyone has a better chance than that bunch of d***heads. I could definitely do it. But I can't be a celebrity because they haven't asked me.
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