Understanding The Pogues

Hello again, I’ve just finished my last lecture before Christmas, yay (I mean boo, I want to do more linguistics (I hope I get brownie points for saying that))!

I’m currently listening to Fairytale of New York by The Pogues, and getting in the Christmas spirit. This activity has got me thinking, how on earth do we understand what Shane MacGowan (he’s the lead singer, I know my stuff) is saying?

It’s a wonder of human communication that the noises departing his mouth can have any meaning whatsoever to a hearer, and to be honest, it’s a wonder he can make such vague word-like sounds.

When someone’s singing voice sounds like… that (I was trying to think of a simile/metaphor but I couldn’t quite do it justice) it’s kind of inevitable that everyone will have a different idea of what the lyrics actually are. Try getting a group together, putting the song on quietly in the background, and hearing all the different versions as a fun Christmas activity.

Until today I’d never listened to the song whilst reading the lyrics, and to be honest, it was rather strange.

It was also unpleasant. The song is unpleasant. Our friend Shane, at one point, sings:
‘You´re an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed’…
Yes, not very nice, is it?

So, I guess the meaning of this rather strange but somewhat wondrous post is to not listen to the lyrics of Fairytale of New York, and just go along with the vague noises. It’s much more fun to sing along to.

Or you could use my guide to how to sing along, which is here, give it a try, you won’t regret it:

Anolmasetome   wonseeanerrthrrone
Iturmfaceway andreamderboutya

I cseeyabedrtime

(this bit is Kirsty it’s more clear)
They got cars big as bars
They got rivers of gold
But the wind goes (or windows) 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 yelled out for more
Sinatra was swinging all the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner
Then danced through the night.

And the boys from 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 scumbag you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy christmas your arse I pray god it´s our last.

And the boys of the NYPD choir’s still singing Galway Bay
And the bells were ringing out
For christmas day.

Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
And the boys of the NYPD choir’s still singing Galway Bay
And the bells are ringing out
For christmas day.
I hope you enjoyed this festive post, this might be the last before the new year, I don’t know if anyone else has anything planned. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the blog this year, some more of you better get involved in the new year!

And to end, to paraphrase Shakin’ Stevens, Merry Christmas Everyone!


2 thoughts on “Understanding The Pogues

  1. Pingback: Fairytale of mondegreen | gerryhowley

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