heard on the wire

And the bells were ringing out


A consensus appears to have been reached, if my Facebook and Twitter timelines are at–all reliable indicators, that Kirtsy MacColl and The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York is the greatest of Christmas songs.

As I’ve mentioned before, this blog’s holiday affections lie elsewhere, but we can only be happy that the season’s airwaves are more likely to be filled—and I’m not being sarcastic here—by Shane MacGowan’s beautiful voice than the tuneless drone of the Richard.

Another voice not readily associated with beauty, but like MacGowan’s capable of giving a rare, raw emotion to a lyric, is Billy Bragg’s. A few years ago—and at just two hours’ notice—Bragg teamed up with Florence Welch of Machine fame, taking the Kirsty MacColl part to Florence’s MacGowan. I may be in a very small minority when I say that I
prefer their fairytale.

Florence Welch and Billy Bragg :: Fairytale of New York

Bragg recently concluded a European tour to promote his excellent 2013 LP, Tooth & Nail. His Brussels show was, without hyperbole, the finest live performance I have ever seen. Grown men cried, not least during this song.

Billy Bragg :: Goodbye, Goodbye

Lovers, of course, never say goodbye.

The Flamingos :: Lovers Never Say Goodbye

Audio MP3

Sinatra did, indeed, swing, ever-so-gently on this, a highlight among many on his 1956 LP, Songs for Swinging Lovers, probably the greatest of the decade. His voice never sounded better.

And, by the way, Merry Christmas.

OK, maybe that is the best.

Photo: Bells; some rights reserved

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