Nick Cave has slammed the BBC over their decision to censor The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale Of New York’. It came after a fan asked Cave for his thoughts on the BBC’s decision on his website The Red Hand Files.
Cave described ‘Fairytale Of New York’ as the “greatest Christmas song ever written”.
“It stands shoulder to shoulder with any great song, from any time, not just for its sheer audacity, or its deep empathy, but for its astonishing technical brilliance,” he said.
“Now, once again, Fairytale is under attack. The idea that a word, or a line, in a song can simply be changed for another and not do it significant damage is a notion that can only be upheld by those that know nothing about the fragile nature of songwriting,” wrote Nick Cave.
Cave says censoring the song makes it “tampered with”, “neutered”, and “tamed”.
“It is a song that has lost its truth, its honour and integrity — a song that has knelt down and allowed the BBC to do its grim and sticky business,” he continues.
“I am in no position to comment on how offensive the word ‘f****t’ is to some people, particularly to the young — it may be deeply offensive, I don’t know,” says Cave.
“In which case,” he continues. “Radio 1 should have made the decision to simply ban the song, and allow it to retain its outlaw spirit and its dignity.”
If you’re unfamiliar, it’s an incredibly catchy song, based around Christmas time. The Pogues’ frontman Shane MacGowen duets with Kirsty MacColl and sees the pair sing and perform as a bitter, unhappy couple.
The reason that the BBC censored the song though is one line from Kirsty MacColl where she sings, “You scumbag, you maggot / You cheap lousy f****t / Happy Christmas, your arse / I pray God it’s our last.”
The song has come under fire in previous years already. Back in 2018, MacGowen said, “The word was used by the character because it fitted with the way she would speak and with her character.”
“She is not supposed to be a nice person, or even a wholesome person. She is a woman of a certain generation at a certain time in history and she is down on her luck and desperate.”
“If people don’t understand… then I am absolutely fine with them bleeping the word.”