In a new RTÉ documentary on the making of one of the most famous Christmas songs of all time, the Pogues frontman says he gets still joy from his life with his long-time partner, Victoria Mary Clarke.
She said they are very like the rowing couple in the festive classic. “We’ve had lots of fights and screaming at each other in the street, throwing things, breaking up. We’re both very aware of each other’s faults.
“But we’re still like that couple in the song. We’re still on the same rollercoaster together. It doesn’t matter what happens, you’ve still got each other.”
MacGowan agrees their life has been up and down but adds: “Still, we’ve been lucky. Life brings me joy, she brings me joy.”
In the documentary, one of the NYPD officers who appeared in the famous ‘Fairytale of New York’ video has told how the legendary frontman lived up to his hell-raising reputation on set in the Big Apple.
Detective Kevin McCarthy told RTÉ’s documentary team that the NYPD didn’t have a choir but they did have the NYPD Emerald society of pipes and drum band.
Before the release of the Christmas song, he said most of the police band had never heard of the Pogues but MacGowan made a lasting impression.
“I was very proud to play a small part in the video for the ‘Fairytale of New York’. I think they wrote the song thinking there was an NYPD choir. There is no choir, so I think we were the next best thing. We have a bagpipe band and it has been around since 1960,” said McCarthy.
“Most of the guys never heard of the Pogues and then the Pogues showed up. Those guys were legless, they could barely stand up.”
He said Mac Gowan, who celebrates his 60th birthday on Christmas Day, stunned the officers when he whipped the drum major’s marching baton and threw it up in the air.
He said: “Shane MacGowan came up to our legendary drum major, Finbar Devine, standing 6ft4, all seriousness. Just something you would never do is touch Finbar’s mace [marching baton].
“Shane is staggering and takes it and throws it up in the air at least two storeys. He was really out there and with just one hand he catches it in mid-air. So, we all got a chuckle out of that.”
MacGowan, who calls the song “the nastiest Christmas single ever”, said he has never got tired of the festive song as it celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
He said: “I never got sick of it. I’m really surprised I didn’t, but I never did. It was a great fucking performance. It was a great recording.
“Christmas is a lousy time for most people. It’s when all the skeletons come out of the cupboard and people have rows and all the rest of it.”
MacGowan said he ended up writing the Christmas song with his bandmate Jem Finer in response to a bet made in a bar in Dublin by their record producer, Elvis Costello.
“Elvis Costello bet me and Jem that we couldn’t write a Christmas single without going jingly, jangly, fucking Happy Christmas.”
The documentary tells how the song took two years to eventually complete and it was finally recorded with Kirsty MacColl as a duet.
- Fairytale of New York will be shown on RTÉ One tonight at 9.35pm