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30th Nov 2023

Shane MacGowan once spoke out over homophobic slur controversy in Fairytale of New York

Joseph Loftus

‘There is no political correctness to it’

Earlier today, the news emerged that songwriting legend, Shane MacGowan, had died at the age of 65.

MacGowan, who himself was born on Christmas Day 1957, was the frontman of The Pogues, who were perhaps best known for their 1988 song, Fairytale of New York.

The song, which is widely regarded as the greatest Christmas song ever written, has never made Christmas number one, despite numerous attempts.

The song has also often found itself at the epicentre of controversy due to its lyrical content.

In the second verse, MacGowan’s character refers to Kirsty MacColl’s character as an “old sl*t on junk” to which MacColl responds calling MacGowan a “f*ggot” and an “arse”.

Since its release there have been calls to censor the song, but MacGowan himself labelled such claims as ridiculous.

Back in 2019, BBC Radio Solent DJ Alex Dyke told his listeners that he is “no longer comfortable” playing the song, labelling it as “downmarket chav bilge”.

In a since deleted tweet, Dyke said: “I think Christmas songs should be about excited children, toys, Christmas trees, snowy streets, ski lodges, reindeer, wrapping paper, Santa, family, peace on earth and love. I just find the Pogues’ ‘Fairytale of New York’ a nasty, nasty song.”

In response to the backlash MacGowan said in a statement: “The word was used by the character because it fitted with the way she would speak and 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.”

In another interview with Ryan Tubridy on Ireland’s The Late Late Show, MacGowan also defended the lyrics before performing it with its original lyrics.

MacGowan told Tubridy: “There is no political correctness to it.

“I’ve been told it’s insulting to gays; I don’t understand how that works.”

When Tubridy said that the word could be offensive, MacGowan replied: “Nobody in the band thinks that’s worth a second’s thought.”

MacGowan’s death at the age of 65 was confirmed earlier today in a statement shared by his wife, Victoria.

The statement read: “I don’t know how to say this so I am just going to say it.

“Shane who will always be the light that I hold before me and the measure of my dreams and the love of my life and the most beautiful soul and beautiful angel and the sun and the moon and the start and end of everything that I hold dear has gone to be with Jesus and Mary and his beautiful mother Therese.

“I am blessed beyond words to have met him and to have loved him and to have been so endlessly and unconditionally loved by him and to have had so many years of life and love and joy and fun and laughter and so many adventures.”