December 21, 2006

"Fairy Tale of New York"

Back in 2004, my readers leaned heavily towards the Pogues's "Fairy Tale of New York" as the best Christmas song of the last 25 years. It's highlighted by a duet between Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl, who was never as big a star in America as she was in Britain. [Via Mickey Kaus.]

Just from this one recording, however, it's clear she was something special. She was killed while scuba diving in Mexico just before Christmas, 2000. She saved her children, but was virtually sliced in half by the propeller of a Mexican billionaire's speedboat illegally racing through a swimming zone. In, Carl F. Horowitz has the story of Kirsty's mother's struggle to obtain justice from the Mexican government in "Mexican Microcosm: The Unsolved Death Of Kirsty MacColl."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

"...Kirsty MacColl, who was never as big a star in America as she was in America."

Steve, like I told you, you need a break. Don't worry, we'll still be here in the New Year.

Steve Sailer said...

Sorry, I meant:

"...Kirsty MacColl, who was never as big a planet in America as she was in America."

Anonymous said...

It must be the eggnog. I still don't get it.

Anonymous said...

I once had a free copy of the CD, but I threw it out. I feel so bad about that now.

Anonymous said...

You meant to say "not as big in America as internationally". And that is true. She was a great talent and like so many artists that don't quite fit an exact niche but are not successful enough to define their own in the mass mind, she did far better in markets where radio is not controlled by a media monopoly.

Several Americans come to mind in that sense. Deborah Harry-who is bizarrely to be the subject of a mainstream Hollywood film starring Kirsten Dunst-did very well everywhere except the US, while the far lesserly talented but far more aggressive self-marketer Madonna has fixated herself as a media icon here and overseas (though the Brits regard her as foppish and ridiculous, they follow her rabidly).

If malcolm Gladwel is the Madonna of popular economic reporting, does that make you the Debbie Harry?

Steve Sailer said...

Deborah Harry walked away from her career at its peak around 1982 to nurse her boyfriend for a year or so when he came down with some rare disease. Her career never really recovered.

A lot of the women rockers of that era sacrificed a lot to voluntarily perform their womanly duties. Patti Smith, for example, at the exact moment when she had finally learned how to make records (she was an amaazingly ambitious personality, who unfortunately didn't know much about music), married a guy from MC5, moved to a Detroit suburb, had three kids and didn't make another record for 9 years. Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders had her career slowed a lot by having children.

It certainly made them interesting artistic figures -- hard rockers but very womanly too. In contrast, Joan Jett was more straightforward -- a hard rock loving lesbian. But she was pretty riveting in her sincere love of crashing guitar rock. (And even Jett turned in a terrific performance in her movie, "Light of Day"?, outacting Michael J. Fox and Gena Rowlands.)

Anonymous said...

Debbie did tke off quite a while to deal with Chris Stein's affliction (pemphigus vulgaris-something you would find interesting to research) but you also have to consider that Blondie the band was breaking up anyway, and also, Debbie wanted to pursue a film career fulltime-she considered herself an actress first and foremost from the beginning, playing a character ("Blondie" as it were) playing a rock star. In that she emulated her cinematic idol, who famously saw herself as a urchin playing a role of a mega-moviestar playing a serious actress (and moreover, largely pulled it off.) Art imitating life, a certain Brian Warner is making a pretty good living doing the same thing backwards and in high heels today:he's admitted Deb was as much an inspiration to him as Anton LaVey or Boyd Rice.

Joan Jett may have been completely sincere about loving hard rock, but her work hasn't held up all that well: she's still largely known for "I Love Rock And Roll", which is (along with the verse to Van Halen's 'Jump')a bad Chuck Berry ripoff. And though I thought her role in 'Light of Day' was more than passable, I still think that, along with Deb and Dennis Lipscomb, Pat Benatar did a wonderful supporting role in 'Union City' and showed more potential than Joan did.