Friday, December 24, 2004
i built my dreams around you
Final day of Xmas posts.
I said I'd post my favorite Christmas tune today, so here it is. Shouldn't be much of a shock to those who've been reading awhile.
I'm not a religious man. Religion and Atheism require a degree of faith. I'm not really given to great leaps of faith. I'm often shocked when my computer actually turns on in the morning, when a book is actually good, when a cd is worth more than two listens. People leave. For some, Christmas means an expression of their faith. For others, it's a time to get stuff. For still more, it's a time to gather with family. Others don't celebrate it at all. Some people kill themselves. In many ways, Christmas has become a very uniquely American holiday, something else we've stolen from other cultures. The crass consumerism, the blatant hypocrisy of proclaiming peace on earth, while engaging in mini-wars throughout the world, and exercising untold human rights violations. We have the gall to complain if we don't get the right IPod, while the missions are full of the poor and homeless. It's below zero degrees here in Chicago, and some have died because they have no home. But enjoy that goddamned mp3 player, cuz you've earned it, by god. This is 'Merica, and we like our stuff. Me too.
Shane MacGowan is, with apologies to Mr. Heaney, Ireland's last great poet. Well, maybe not. I'm sure many of our Irish friends will disagree. Who knows? What I know is that he's become an easy target for mockery. Some of it he's earned. Shane enjoys a drink now and again. What I find interesting, as I've read the several bios of him, is that everybody wants to discuss Shane drinking, but the question never asked is "Why does Shane drink?" Of course, it's none of our business. I've seen Shane, shirt covered in vomit, barely able to stand, gripping the mic like it was the Virgin Mary, full cups of beer (no bottles at Shane shows) being tossed at him. And he still found the time and/or strength to bend down and sign anything offered up to him for his autograph. In those moments, the fan was more important than his cigarette, the song, the drink. Beat that, Bono. It's popular to place bets on when Shane's gonna die. Ignorant. I don't know the man, never spoke with him, don't what he thinks, what his favorite food is, where he stands on the great Jay Z vs. R. Kelley debate. I know that his songs, even the so-called minor recent work, contain all the passion, confusion, hypocrisy, joy, anger, sadness and life that make up humanity. Yeah, we make fun of the man. Shane's got his very publicly displayed problems. Shane's not a hero. He's not, by any stretch of the imagination, a god. But he might be a saint.
In Fairytale of New York, an immigrant couple, separated from their homeland, broke, drunk and disillusioned, spend Christmas Eve in a drunk tank. They sing, they love and they fight. That's about it. Like a Raymond Carver short story, we start in the middle and end before the end. I'm of Irish descent (who isn't?), but I cannot speak to the mindset of the thousands of immigrants passing through Ellis Island on their way to New York City, the land of dreams. Other Christmas songs are often cast in blacks or whites. Christmas is great, yay Jesus, Christmas sucks, etc. Fairytale takes all the sentiment, mixes it, and creates the most uniquely human of all Christmas songs. It's coarse and beautiful. All the dreams, the Sinatra songs, the dashed hopes, the glimmer of redemption. You know this couple; There's a little bit of all of us in them.
"I could have been someone.
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."
The Pogues: Fairytale of New York (mp3)
(YouSendIt file...click on target...download from site)
Reposts by request
The Rimshots: Santa Stole My Whiskey (mp3)
The Dalheart Imperials: Old Man Spivey's Egg Nog (mp3)
The Pogues: Fairytale of New York (live in London) (mp3)
(Yousendit files...click on target...download from site)