The disc jockey wants the 1987 song backlisted because he is ‘no longer comfortable’ with its language and lack of Christmas spirit. In a now-deleted tweet, he said:
‘Radio, let’s ban Fairytale Of New York this Christmas! “You’re a slut on junk, you scumbag, cheap lousy f****t” – is this what we want our kids singing in the back of the car?
‘It’s an offensive pile of downmarket chav bilge. We can do better!’
This is not the first time the popular song has garnered controversy. In 2007, BBC Radio 1 censored the words ‘faggot’ and ‘slut’ in order to ‘avoid offence’.
Later, DJ Dyke continued his rant on air:
‘I think Christmas songs should be about excited children, toys, Christmas trees, snowy streets, ski lodges, reindeer, wrapping paper, Santa, family, peace on earth and love.
‘I just find the Pogues’ Fairytale of New York a nasty, nasty song.’
He went on:
‘I don’t like the lyrics “you’re bum, you’re a punk, you’re a slut on junk” – I think that’s absolutely awful.
‘I don’t like ”you scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy f****t” – I find that offensive.
‘I just think that this guy, this toothless drunk, ruining the romantic image of New York city with a song about heroin is not on.’
Dyke ended his argument with: “I think it should be banned, I really do, so I won’t be playing this record on the radio of this Christmas.”
Surely this IS the romantic image of New York?
Okay, I love a good rant. I appreciate a great rant more than a fine Chianti. Well, here’s mine.
The Christmas story is actually quite dark. Has Dyke not read the Bible? King Herod slaughters all boys under the age of two. That’s not exactly light reading. At the time, Bethlehem probably had a higher murder rate than New York in the 1980s.
The message of Christmas is, of course, a note of gaiety in the darkness. Isn’t that what Fairytale Of New York is? It’s grim, of course, but there’s sentimentality there too, beneath the grime, cigarette ends and copious pools of sick – and yes, the use of the word ‘faggot’.
Now, I’m not sure I want a squeaky-clean New York. What I want is the city of Death Wish, Ghostbusters, Escape from New York, Taxi Driver and Mean Streets. It’s perfectly obvious that all of the best films set in New York came out in the 1970s and 1980s, when the city was at its worst: think hookers, heroin and homicide.
There’s a lesson in all of this.
The beauty of this damn song is its melancholy, offensiveness and absurdity, looking back to a time when ‘Sinatra was swinging, / All the drunks they were singing / We kissed on a corner / Then danced…’
This is actually the whole story about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, getting thrown out for mischievous behaviour and having to eke out a painful existence in the real world. Christmas is the
sequel. Its themes are hope and redemption. It’s only great because we have the horrid contrast of the ruined couple.
It’s not enough to read the lyrics, of course. Listen to the song. It’s an Irish ballad that carries you over the misery into some semblance of good cheer. Again, this is Christmas. Follow that shining star across the night’s sky to your salvation, DJ Dyke.
Anyway, he wants the song ‘banned, I really do, so I won’t be playing this record on the radio’.
Thankfully, and to my great surprise, the BBC has said that ‘there is no ban. We have a strict music policy that we expect to be followed.’
Charismatic, witty, charming, engaging - four things Joshua Rogers will never be. Thankfully, he’s a semi-competent editor, who, after graduating university with two mostly pointless degrees, joined The Hook two years ago. He subsequently honed his writing skills over several features and investigative pieces, arguably letting The Hook audience in on way too much of his personal life.