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‘Fairytale of Philadelphia’ lyrics: How to listen to Jason and Travis Kelce’s Christmas song

The classic, yet somewhat depressing, Christmas song by the Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl has had a Philly Specials NFL update.

Update:
The classic, yet somewhat depressing, Christmas song by the Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl has had a Philly Specials NFL update.
Mark J. RebilasUSA TODAY Sports

When Jason and Travis Kelce - you know, the NFL brothers, one of which is making some headlines over his relationship with that up-and-coming singer Taylor Swift - win Spotify’s number one podcast award for their in-depth sports chat, few are going to raise an eyebrow. They are elite starts in that arena, after all, and know their sporting stuff.

But when they also get together to release a song that hits number one in the Billboard music charts, well, that’s certainly more intriguing. So, we thought it was worth a deeper look.

Kelce Bros make Billboard fairytale

You obviously know the classic track ‘Fairytale of New York’ by The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl (tragically killed aged 41 while saving her teenage son from a multimillionaire’s powerboat in Mexico). Well, that’s the one chosen by the NFL pair and it would appear to have been an instant classic.

The New York element has been changed for Philadelphia and there are some other related tweaks made, but much remains the same. And the lads (almost) manage to drop the necessary octaves to hit Shane MacGowan’s levels. Here are the lyrics:

Fairytale of Philadelphia - Jason and Travis Kelce

It was Christmas Eve again 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, brother
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 Broad Street was waiting for me
You were handsome, you were pretty, you're the king of South Philly
When the band finished playing, they howled out for more
The Leathers were swinging, all the drunks, they were singing
We fought on a corner, then danced through the night

The sound of The Silver Ages choir all singing Galway Bay
And the bells were ringing out for Christmas day

You's a lush, you're a crumb bum, you smell like some old scum
Washed up from the Schuylkill and rotting away
You dirtbag, you phony, you lousy jabroni
Happy Christmas, you ass, I pray God it's our last

The sound of The Silver Ages 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 Mom first had you
I kept them with me, Jas'
I put them with my own
Can't make it all alone
I've built my dreams around you

The sound of The Silver Ages choir still singing Galway Bay
And the bells were ringing out for Christmas day

The original lyrics are here:

Fairytale of New York - The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl

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

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

Fairytales of Philadelphia and New York compared

Jason & Travis Kelce vs The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl. What a battle! Well, they’re not really competing, are they? It’s more of a massive compliment that the NFL brothers have done their own version of the Christmas classic. But have you spotted the subtle differences between the two sets of lyrics? I magnified the text and picked out what I found, adding some of my own context to the variations.

Obviously both songs share a similar structure and theme as they both tell a story set during Christmas Eve in a somewhat unconventional and gritty setting. The locations in the title, of course, give a hint to the amendments made, the characters involved, and the overall tone.

Setting “Fairytale of Philadelphia” is set in Philadelphia, specifically mentioning Broad Street. “Fairytale of New York” is set in New York City, with references to Broadway and the boys of the NYPD choir.

Characters In “Fairytale of Philadelphia,” there are references to an old man in the drunk tank, a brother, and the King of South Philly. The focus is on personal relationships and experiences in Philadelphia. “Fairytale of New York” features an old man in the drunk tank, the protagonist’s partner (referred to as “baby” and “babe”), the Queen of New York City, and the boys of the NYPD choir. The interactions are more confrontational, with insults exchanged between the characters.

Tone “Fairytale of Philadelphia” has a mix of nostalgia, love, and humor. It expresses a sense of brotherhood and dreams for a better future despite the rough environment. “Fairytale of New York” has a more confrontational and bitter tone, especially in the exchange of insults between the characters. The song addresses hardships and shattered dreams.

Imagery Both songs use vivid imagery to describe the Christmas scene. “Fairytale of Philadelphia” mentions cars big as bars, rivers of gold, and the sound of The Silver Ages choir singing Galway Bay. “Fairytale of New York” describes cars big as bars, rivers of gold, Broadway, and the boys of the NYPD choir singing Galway Bay.

Insults “Fairytale of Philadelphia” includes light-hearted insults like “lush,” “crumb bum,” and “lousy jabroni,” with a wish for a happy Christmas despite the teasing. “Fairytale of New York” contains more harsh insults, including “scumbag,” “maggot,” and “cheap lousy faggot,” with a prayer for the last Christmas together.

Conclusion “Fairytale of Philadelphia” concludes on a more positive note, expressing a sense of unity and hope. “Fairytale of New York” ends on a more somber and reflective tone, acknowledging lost dreams and the need for companionship.

Music stars | Jason Kelce #62 of the Philadelphia Eagles and brother Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs.
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Music stars | Jason Kelce #62 of the Philadelphia Eagles and brother Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs.JAMIE SQUIREAFP

How to listen to “Fairytale of Philadelphia”

As well as the YouTube link above, you can access the new song on all good streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music. It’ll also be played quite a lot on your radio box in the coming weeks, especially if you’re in the Philly area. Let’s see if Taylor gets them on stage to perform in her Eras Tour.

Unconfirmed, and completely made up, reports are coming in that The Pogues that are still with us are lining up a small sided game of gridiron against their new, and unexpected, competition. I’ll buy the popcorn.

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