Simon Hattenstone in the Guardian:
Christmas hits: are Slade, Boney M and the Pogues made for life?
In Nick Hornby's novel About A Boy, Will Freeman never has to work again after writing a huge Christmas hit. Every December records sell, kerching kerching, radios blast, kerching kerching, adverts carry the song, kerching kerching, and he lives happily ever after. But is it true? Are those lucky enough to have written a classic Christmas hit living in clover?...
Shane MacGowan doesn't attempt to hide the boredom in his voice. "I've answered that question a million times," he whines. "I don't really want to talk about it, but what d'you want to know?"
I've just asked how the Pogues' brilliant Fairytale Of New York came about. "Elvis Costello was producing us at the time," MacGowan says, "and he bet me and Jem [co-writer Jem Finer] we couldn't turn up with a Christmas record that wouldn't be slushy."
The Pogues didn't record the song until two years later, in 1987, by which time Cait O'Riordan had left the group and married Costello, who was no longer producing them. O'Riordan was initially going to duet with MacGowan, so they needed a female singer. "Steve Lillywhite was producing, so we'd known Kirsty MacColl for a while and she was married to him. She was hanging round the studio and said, 'Why don't I have a go at doing the woman's part?' Cait had a brilliant voice, but as it turned out Kirsty was much better for that song."
MacGowan says he's not only bored talking about it, he gets bored singing it. "I like hearing other people singing it – young couples, old couples, when they do it properly. Just singing it in a pub. I don't get much kick out of doing it live any more. I don't do it unless the Pogues are doing Christmas gigs, and we're not doing any this year."
In 2000, MacColl was killed in a boating accident. Is that why he doesn't like singing it now – because Kirsty is not around to sing it with? "That's one reason, yes."
We get to the million-quid question, but MacGowan isn't playing. "I'm not going there."
Fairytale has often been voted the greatest Christmas record ever. Does MacGowan think it is? "No, it's not," he says, before reeling off his favourites. "I love The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole." And suddenly he croaks into life. "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire… dudududududu. And I like I Believe In Father Christmas, by Greg Lake." Now he's not talking about Fairytale Of New York, he's unstoppable. "There's the Phil Spector version of Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree, by Brenda Lee..." And one final thing, he says. Yes? "Happy Christmas to you, and all your readers."
Rest of article at:http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/dec/23/christmas-hits