“Fairytale Of New York,” the 1987 duet from the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, is the best Christmas song ever recorded, and I will not hear any arguments to the contrary. Last night, a roots-music all-star crew got together on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon to cover the song. Iron And Wine’s Sam Beam sang the Shane MacGowan parts, Kathleen Edwards played MacColl (and actually did sing the word I was wondering if she’d sing, though NBC bleeped it), Calexico were the backing band, and actual Irish person Glen Hansard sang backup. There’s a strong argument that Hansard should’ve sung lead, since Beam could never muster the grit necessary to handle a Shane MacGowan part. And if Edwards came closer to MacColl’s spitfire status, she still fell well short, as just about anyone would. Still, the song remains transcendent, and it was a kick to hear a big ensemble settle into all the sweeping string parts. Watch the performance below.
If you can hear the original version of “Fairytale Of New York” without getting a little misty, we’re probably not friends.