Sunday, December 7, 2008

Fairytale of New York

Fairytale of New York is my A#1 absolute favourite Christmas song in the history of ever. No two ways about it. This is a very informed claim, having enthusiastically sifted through thousands of versions of hundreds of Christmas songs, because I am weird like that. And because, thankfully, Sean is weird like that, and introduced me to the whole Christmas music phenomenon.

He did not, however, introduce me to this song.

I get kind of pissed off by people who make the claim that this hardly counts as a Christmas song because said people feel they can listen to it all year round. It's a very derogatory comment to make about Christmas music. But truth be told, my formative and best memories of "Fairytale of New York" are of Toronto summer nights spent dancing sloppily, drunkenly, and with Justin, to this song at the James Joyce Pub, strummed by that guy who would play all of our requests. For us, he played The Beatles, David Bowie, Stan Rogers, and the Pogues. Now, I mind the Toronto summer heat, but then I never did, and for reveling in it there was no better companion than my dear friend and very first drinking buddy.

Justin and I had a very easy relationship that was sometimes made complicated by our youth, our sensitivities, our genders, and our unabashed enthusiasms that occasionally got tricky with our tendencies to go hard rather than going home. I remember a particularly sobering and difficult conversation at Hob Nob Donuts following one such evening. I remember it like I was approaching the end of something that I needed to have in my life. I remember feeling like I knew that we could never go back to the way things were; the way things were when our friendship was uncomplicated by things that should have been left out of him and I. It was okay, though. We were okay. We repeated some of the same mistakes I suppose; but no, they weren't really mistakes - just growing pains I guess. And I think we learned through one another a lot of what we really wanted.

I also think about Justin when I think about Christmas, though the soundtrack to our Christmases together would have been far less inspiring than the soundtracks to our summers. We began a few consecutive Christmases at Country Style Donuts at Dundas and Islington, it being the only place open so late on Christmas Eve night, and I'm sure that whatever godawful music they were playing there was entirely appropriate to a suburban donut store franchise. These evenings would follow our tradition of tobogganing at Centennial Hill with our brothers.

Justin's mom sold her house on Saskatoon rd. several years ago. He has no family left in Etobicoke. My mom lives on Kipling Avenue, now, in an area that's fairly close to the home I grew up in on Edgevalley Drive, but in a house that is not quite my home.

I don't get to see Justin much anymore. It's been a couple of years since his last visit to Halifax, and now when I go "home" he's not one of the people I get to see. He has his own house with his wife and a dog (!) in the Ottawa Valley. I've never even seen it. We hardly ever talk on the phone, and the rare emails we send are fairly concise. Justin has always been sparing with his words. He is, through and through, a man of action.

The closest friends I had in high school were Justin, Katherine, and Tim, and they remain, despite distance and generally pretty shoddy upkeep, three of my closest friends in the world, to my mind at least. They are all very good with words, but Justin has never ever needed to reassure me. Not even that one time I thought he did. He is one of the few people in the world, like family, whom I know will always love me; and he does love me, in his understated and very loyal Justin way, just for being me.

Fairytale of New York - The Pogues

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

1 comment:

Steph said...

Yeah, I really love this song too. I find that people are unduly tough on this sweet, sad, and undeniably Christmassy tune. I'm really not one for holiday music of any kind, but this is one song I really adore.