"Fairytale Of New York" as written by Jeremy Max Finer and Shane Patrick Lysaght Macgowan....
It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won't see another one
And then he sang a song
The Rare Old Mountain Dew
I turned my face away
And dreamed about you

Got on a lucky one
Came in eighteen to one
I've got a feeling
This year's for me and you
So happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true

They've got cars big as bars
They've got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you
It's no place for the old
When you first took my hand
On a cold Christmas Eve
You promised me
Broadway was waiting for me

You were handsome
You were pretty
Queen of New York City
When the band finished playing
They howled out for more
Sinatra was swinging,
All the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner
Then danced through the night

The boys of the NYPD choir
Were singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day

You're a bum
You're a punk
You're an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God it's our last

The boys of the NYPD choir
Still singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day

I could have been someone
Well 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 boys of the NYPD choir
Still singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells are ringing out
For Christmas day


Lyrics submitted by iKickDogs

"Fairytale of New York" as written by Shane Patrick Lysaght Macgowan Jem Finer

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Fairytale Of New York song meanings
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62 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentI think melodic trash is right about the song- it's one of the few songs that make me cry almost everytime I hear it- I see it as esplaining how life is genrally shit- it's only the other people that make it good- these two people may be in a bad place but at least they love each other, and thats all that matters...
    kernkrafton March 31, 2005   Link
  • +4
    General Commenthow can you not love a christmas song where they hurl insults like 'slut' and 'faggot' at eachother.

    merry christmas your arse = best line ever
    bongoon December 18, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWhen you see the ould couples in the ould pubs in the Irish ghettos who spend the night getting drunker and and giving each other hell yet going home together at the end of the night cos all they have is each other then you know you're where this was written.
    still stupidon September 28, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI've always seen it as the song of a couple who start off remembering the past on Christmas Eve, then get into a long argument and scream at everyone how much they hate each other. Yet somehow, as the bells ring out for Christmas Day, they realise how much they depend on one another. He may be drunk and she may be cold, but their dreams still belong together. (I like the way the last verse seems to tie the two different melodies of the song together.)
    kirotourmalineon November 11, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThe key is the last line of the first verse......"I turned my face away, and dreamed about you"
    The old man sings a sentimental song about whiskey and the drunk man has a dream....the dream takes place in the late 40's, early 50's, when he first met the girl of his dreams, who apparently was an Irish immigrant (she talks about NY as if she is hearing about it in Ireland before she comes.....Cars big as bars, rivers of gold, but a cold win, and no place for old people)
    In the dream, several things become clear, either he (also an Irish immigrant) talked her into coming to America ("you promised that Broadway was waiting for me"), or he was a NY Irishman who met her here and swept her off her feet on a Christmas eve when Sinatra was playing and everything was Magical.....They are also both now older and have serious drug problems (he, alcohol, she, heroin) ...they talk to each other like alcoholics....overly sentimental one moment, nasty insults the next....
    It's possible they are still together, but I think it's not likely....I think she was the great love of his life, and he is dreaming that he is talking to her.....almost as if the two dying spirits are reconciling.....he never really stopped loving her in his drunken way....and it's not too late for them to reconcile somehow in the spirit world, with the grace of forgiveness that comes with Christmas....that Christmas eve memory being the great moment of their lives....
    the "got on a lucky one" refernece means he hit it big at the track on an 18 to 1 horse, and took it to mean that he was on a roll, and that his luck would be good, and times would improve.....
    samtheshamon February 06, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song made me cry the first time I heard it. It's so bittersweet, at the beginning it seems like they're just reminiscing about the good ol days when they first met, and as it goes on he's so hurt because he loves her so much, and he's so mad at her because her actions put her in that hospital bed and he's angry and scared because he "built his dreams around her."

    Beautiful song, the music just reminds me of walking around at nighttime in the snow, while it's still so pretty out before the snow plows and cars ruin it.
    lisap86on March 05, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song for me was such an anti xmas song it was amazing...so many missed the point.nothing happy at all in it...now for me the song has changed meaning...now its for Kirsty and the justice for Kirsty...
    jcaimbeulon March 17, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentYeah, Pharoah, I think you're wrong about the hospital bed. She's "an old slut on junk," a heroin addict.
    Kyomaraon April 19, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFairytale of New York was named after the novel of the same name, by J. P. Dunleavy, and Shane named the song after it was written. Both the book and the novel adress the same subject: New York's hollow dream and the emptyness that belies the showy lifestyle of its inhabitents. So yes, this is a love song, but it is much more than that, hence the line: 'They've got cars big as bars/They've got rivers of gold/But the wind goes right through you/It's no place for the old.' He promised this woman a paradise which never existed, and though they've lived to an old age they still blame themselves and eachother for the theft of a dream that will always be unattainable.
    NellieWhiskeyon June 30, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI've always assumed that she overdosed and that's why she's "on a drip in that bed." It's entirely possible, of course, that she's actually dying, but I don't know if there's enough evidence in this lyrics to definitively state either way.

    Also, many people seem to think of it as saying even though they love/hate each other and blame each other for the destruction of their dreams, they stay together because they don't know what else to do; does anyone else assume they've broken up by the end? I always have. In the intro, which is sort of the epilogue, he's alone in the drunk tank; I assumed he was spending Christmas Eve drinking alone. I guess it's possible, going back to my first paragraph, that it's because she's dead, but I always interpreted it as they fall apart as people and then they fall apart as a couple.

    Anyway, this song is brilliant. The melody always gets me; the soaring heady chorus reflects how happy they are on that first Christmas Eve as they "kiss on the corner then dance through the night," but the verses, which are a little more subdued musically (especially the last one), follow their downward spiral as New York City marches on unconcernedly without them. They have so many hopes and dreams and the city just chews them up and spits them out, and it seems from the intro that he, at least, won't ever recover.
    emilymon September 21, 2010   Link

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