SOUL MUSIC: SERIES 21 - 3. MACK THE KNIFE (320kbs-m4a/63mb/27mins)
BBC Radio 4 Extra broadcast: 10th November 2017
The tragi-comic tale of love gone sour and shattered dreams eloquently depicted in the Christmas classic Fairytale of New York is the focus of this edition of Soul Music. James Fearnley, pianist with The Pogues recounts how the song started off as a transatlantic love story between an Irish seafarer missing his girl at Christmas before becoming the bittersweet reminiscences of the Irish immigrant down on his luck in the Big Apple, attempting to win back the woman he wooed with promises of 'cars big as bars and rivers of gold'.
Gaelic footballer Alisha Jordan came to New York to play football aged 17 from County Meath in Ireland. Despite being dazzled by the glamour and pace of New York City, she missed her family and friends and stencilled the words 'Fairytale of New York' on her apartment wall as an affirmation of her determination to make the most of her new life in the city. When she was later attacked on the street by a stranger, the words came to signify her battle to recover and not to let the horrific facial injuries she suffered defeat her or her ambition to captain her football team.
Rachel Burdett posted the video of the song onto her friend Michelle's social media page to let her know she was thinking of her and praying for her safe return when Michelle went missing suddenly one December. Stories of redemption and of a recognition that Christmas is often not the fairytale we are sold, told through a seasonal favourite.
Producer: Maggie Ayre.