LONDON (Reuters) – British public broadcaster BBC’s Radio 1 has cut out the word “faggot” from an old Christmas hit in a move the mother of the song’s late performer branded “ridiculous.” In “Fairytale of New York,” released 20 years ago by Irish band the Pogues and singer Kirsty MacColl, she sings “You scumbag, you maggot/You cheap lousy faggot” as her character in the song argues with one sung by Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan.
This is, in point of fact, one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful Christmas song ever released, and it’s not homophobic in any way. The song is about an old Irish immigrant couple, arguing on their deathbeds, and if you play it at the right moment, I’ll cry.
The full verse goes:
Kirsty: You’re a bum, you’re a punk Shane: You’re an old slut on junk / living there almost dead on a drip in that bed Kirsty: You scumbag, you maggot / You cheap lousy faggot / Happy Christmas, your arse / I pray God it’s our last
Which doesn’t sound particularly lovely, I know. But you have to hear the song.
And the boys of the NYPD choir Are singing ‘Galway Bay’ And the bells are ringing out For Christmas day
When I saw the Pogues last year, Shane brought his wife out to sing poor Kristy’s part, and they slow-danced under fake snow on stage. Sad and beautiful. (Kirsty McColl died several years ago, saving her children from being run over by a boat.)