Posts Tagged ‘Steve Lillywhite’

Tune du Jour: “Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues
THE CLASH of Cover Tunes: Billy Bragg & Florence + the Machine vs. Third Eye Blind
Peruse, Comment and Vote (I Beseech, Implore and Urge Thee, respectively)


"Free markets will not prevail without unfettered competition among cover songs." - Milton Friedbyrd

“Free markets will not prevail without unfettered competition among cover songs.” – Milton Friedbyrd

The Pogues’ Christmas masterpiece, Fairytale of New York, was released in 1987 on their album, If I Should Fall From Grace with God. The song, written by Jem Finer and Shane MacGowan, features female vocal accompaniment by Kirsty MacColl and string arrangements by Fiachra Trench. It was originally planned as a duet by Shane MacGowan and Pogues bassist Cait O’Riordan, but O’Riordan left the band in 1986 before the song was completed. At the time the Pogues were being produced by Kirsty MacColl’s husband, Steve Lillywhite. Lillywhite asked his wife to provide a guide vocal of the female part for a demo version of the song. However, the Pogues were so impressed with MacColl’s contribution that they asked her to sing the part on the actual recording. Fairytale of New York has correctly been cited as the best Christmas song of all time in various television, radio and magazine related polls in the UK and Ireland.


The Original

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The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl:


THE CLASH of Cover Tunes


Billy Bragg with Florence + the Machine vs. Third Eye Blind
Billy Bragg with Florence + the Machine

Billy Bragg is a recipient of CMI’s universally coveted title of Uni Victor Melodious Maximus in Adversarial Replication. Among the title’s myriad of rewards and benefits, perhaps most desirous is that it bestows upon the recipient the eminently yearned for privilege of having one’s name appear in print media in bold yellow.

Billy Bragg’s triumphal performance in CMI’s THE CLASH of Cover Tunes competition is detailed below:

11/18/2013 – “Which Side Are You On?” (Almanac Singers) – Billy Bragg (57%) bests Dropkick Murphys (43%)

This is a live rendition of Fairytale of New York played on BBC Radio 1 on December 19, 2009. I read somewhere that Bragg and Florence got the idea to play Fairytale of New York about two hours before the Christmas special was to begin. Assuming that’s accurate then this is what they put together within a couple of hours. Brilliant!

Third Eye Blind:

I read somewhere that Third Eye Blind got the idea to cover Fairytale of New York precisely 12 seconds before the studio tapes began to roll. Not bad…

Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. Only one cover tune will live to play another day and it is your solemn responsibility to decide which one prevails. So tell me … Which Side Are You On?!!?



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