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Old 12-04-2013, 03:42 PM
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The Fairytale of New York (The Pogues) -- need a new lyric!


Hey y'all,

I'm singing The Fairytale of New York with some friends for a work-related Christmas celebration, but there's one line that needs a changin'. So I thought I'd turn to the collective creative mind of the SDMB for some help!

Here's the song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9jbdgZidu8

Here's the line in question:

You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot...

We've decided that "faggot" is a little too harsh (but we're keeping in "slut" and "arse"!) so I need to find a way to replace it, like...

You scumbag, you bastard, you're always so plastered...

The new line must be an insult of sorts, and must rhyme. GO!
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Old 12-04-2013, 03:52 PM
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You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap, lousy Daggit.
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Old 12-04-2013, 09:13 PM
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You scumbag, you wanker, you festering canker.
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Old 12-04-2013, 09:38 PM
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If you don't want to sing that word, sing a different song. It's supposed to be offensive, and to bowdlerise it misses the point of the song. It's not a happy, cheery one.
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Old 12-04-2013, 11:11 PM
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You can suck all our dicks, you big bundle of sticks.
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Old 12-05-2013, 12:44 AM
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This reminds me of the time I encountered a guy doing a cheerful upbeat version of Stan Rogers' "Northwest Passage". "Seeking gold and glory, leaving broken weathered bones, and a long forgotten lonely cairn of stones, allright, yeah"!
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Old 12-05-2013, 01:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Steophan View Post
If you don't want to sing that word, sing a different song. It's supposed to be offensive, and to bowdlerise it misses the point of the song. It's not a happy, cheery one.
I have to agree. If you are going to sing the Fairytale of New York, then fucking sing the Fairytale of New York.
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Old 12-05-2013, 02:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steophan View Post
If you don't want to sing that word, sing a different song.
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Originally Posted by Dag Otto View Post
I have to agree. If you are going to sing the Fairytale of New York, then fucking sing the Fairytale of New York.
I agree with Steophan and Dag Otto, but I'll point out that your group certainly isn't the first to want to do a bowdlerised version of this song. There already exist plenty of recorded and released covers of this song with that lyric changed.

I remember almost vomitting once to a version that used the line:
Quote:
You scumbag, you maggot, you're cheap and you're haggard
If you'd like to incite vomitting, you may want to use that lyric.
At least when people hate it you can claim no authorship and cite that there have been versions of the song released with that lyric.

Last edited by bienville; 12-05-2013 at 02:02 AM.
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Old 12-05-2013, 02:14 AM
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Yeah Ronan Keating did that version. *Shudder*
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Old 12-05-2013, 07:26 AM
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I came in to mention the "haggard" variant.

Sing it as is, with a pause at that line to include an auditory footnote.

"You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot used in this instance as an Irish perjorative meaning a burdensome, worthless person

Happy Christmas your arse I pray God it's our last..."
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Old 12-05-2013, 09:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steophan View Post
If you don't want to sing that word, sing a different song. It's supposed to be offensive, and to bowdlerise it misses the point of the song. It's not a happy, cheery one.
I think it was last Holiday Season that I started a thread that many, many (mostly European) people think this is a happy, festive and hopeful Christmas song. These people are, of course, crazy. No offense Europe.

Last edited by Biggirl; 12-05-2013 at 09:52 AM.
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Old 12-05-2013, 09:56 AM
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I think it was last Holiday Season that I started a thread that many, many (mostly European) people think this is a happy, festive and hopeful Christmas song. These people are, of course, crazy. No offense Europe.
As a European, none taken, it's certainly true. It has an upbeat tune, and most people don't really listen beyond that. MacGowan's voice probably doesn't help that!
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Old 12-05-2013, 10:32 AM
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Either do the song as it's written or don't do it at all.
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Old 12-05-2013, 01:57 PM
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You need at least keep to the true spirit of the original verse

You scum bag
You dildo
You cheap lousy crack ho'
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God
It's our last
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Old 12-05-2013, 03:44 PM
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Quote:
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As a European, none taken, it's certainly true. It has an upbeat tune, and most people don't really listen beyond that. MacGowan's voice probably doesn't help that!
But he built his dreams around her! It's a love-song really *sniff*
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Old 12-05-2013, 03:53 PM
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Thanks for all the suggestions, guys. For the record, we're definitely not trying to make the song a happy, cheerful one -- we just don't want to offend one of our many gay employees by using a term that, in the US at least, is extremely offensive. Especially for people who've never heard the song before!

And I totally consider this to be a love song. A dramatic, drunken mess of a love song, but a love song nonetheless. *swoon*
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Old 12-05-2013, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by smaje1 View Post
Thanks for all the suggestions, guys. For the record, we're definitely not trying to make the song a happy, cheerful one -- we just don't want to offend one of our many gay employees by using a term that, in the US at least, is extremely offensive. Especially for people who've never heard the song before!
Any chance you could get one of the openly gay guys in the office to sing that particular lyric for you?
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Old 12-05-2013, 05:27 PM
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Someone playing an instrument for our performance just suggested "cheap lousy braggart," which works pretty well!

Miller, I do know of one co-worker who probably would belt that word out flamboyantly! But to be safe, I think we'll go with "braggart."
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Old 12-05-2013, 05:27 PM
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Is slut not kinda offensive too?
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Old 12-05-2013, 05:35 PM
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This is what happens when you find a stranger in the alps. Now get all these monkey loving snakes off my Monday to Friday plane. Yipee ki-yayy Mr. Falcon

Last edited by Larry Borgia; 12-05-2013 at 05:39 PM.
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Old 12-05-2013, 05:56 PM
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Is slut not kinda offensive too?
I think "slut" is still a word you can say in polite society. "Faggot" is different, somehow.

I work in a prettttttty liberal office, so "slut" and "arse" wouldn't be so frowned upon as "faggot."
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Old 12-05-2013, 05:58 PM
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This is what happens when you find a stranger in the alps. Now get all these monkey loving snakes off my Monday to Friday plane. Yipee ki-yayy Mr. Falcon
I'm not sure what this means... like, at all. Explain?
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Old 12-05-2013, 05:59 PM
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I'm not sure what this means... like, at all. Explain?
OK, just googled it. LOL.
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Old 12-06-2013, 12:15 PM
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OK, just googled it. LOL.
I was fairly loopy when I wrote that, though surprisingly sober. Just a mild cold and a long day. Still I would politely request that you find a different song to sing, if you don't want to say a bad word. You'll just be ruining a great song, and the people who do know the song--including I would guess, a few of your gay co-workers--will know it. You shouldn't bowdlerize art anyway, unless it's awful, which Fairytale certainly isn't.

There's good Christmas music you can sing without having to either change it or possibly cause offense. Here's one. Here's another.
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Old 12-06-2013, 11:00 PM
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You shouldn't bowdlerize art anyway
Chinks do it, Japs do it, up in Lapland even Laps do it.
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Old 12-07-2013, 04:17 AM
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There's also the danger that you're patronising your gay colleagues here. Why not actually ask one or two of them if they'd find your band's use of the word "faggot" unacceptable in this song rather than automatically assuming so on their behalf? You might find their attitude is rather more robust than you imagine.

I think the reason so many people here find your intention to vandalise this particular song so objectionable is because it spectacularly misses the point of everything The Pogues and Shane MacGowan's songwriting stand for. The Pogues were all about acknowledging the sometimes ugly realities of our flawed world, but managing to find a fierce joy in that world anyway. The literary equivalent of what you're proposing here would be having Walt Disney adapt a Charles Bukowski novel, and I hope that helps you see how misguided it is.

Singing the song intact would not mean you're endorsing the use of the word "faggot" as an insult, merely that you're acknowledging that's the kind of word a drunken, angry, working class character like the woman in the song might throw around at moments of stress. Prissily tidying up her language rips the heart from MacGowan's honest depiction of that character. She's as likely to reach for the word "braggart" in this situation as I am to start spouting Latin in casual conversation. Making your bowdlerisation rhyme (however awkwardly) is not the only issue here.

As you'll gather, I'm very uneasy about attempts to air-brush any art (high or low) before daring to expose it to the public. In support of this view, I would cite the following:

"No-one has the right not to be offended." - John Cleese.

"Being offended is the natural consequence of leaving one's home. [...] When it is necessary to go out of the house [people] must be prepared, as am I, to deal with the unpleasant personal habits of others. That is what 'public' means." - Fran Lebowitz.

Last edited by Slade; 12-07-2013 at 04:17 AM.
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Old 12-07-2013, 04:51 AM
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And if you can't take the previous poster's word for it about a Christmas song, whose can you take?
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Old 12-07-2013, 09:59 AM
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I think it was last Holiday Season that I started a thread that many, many (mostly European) people think this is a happy, festive and hopeful Christmas song. These people are, of course, crazy. No offense Europe.
I'm European and I don't think it is jolly and festive.

It is sentimental, though. That horrible booze-fuelled Celtic sentimentality that staggers up to you. throws its arms around your neck, slurs "Y're me bes' friend you 're. I rilly, rilly lurve you" and then throws up all over your shoes.

I bloody HATE it.
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Old 12-07-2013, 08:47 PM
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There's also the danger that you're patronising your gay colleagues here. Why not actually ask one or two of them if they'd find your band's use of the word "faggot" unacceptable in this song rather than automatically assuming so on their behalf? You might find their attitude is rather more robust than you imagine.

I think the reason so many people here find your intention to vandalise this particular song so objectionable is because it spectacularly misses the point of everything The Pogues and Shane MacGowan's songwriting stand for. The Pogues were all about acknowledging the sometimes ugly realities of our flawed world, but managing to find a fierce joy in that world anyway. The literary equivalent of what you're proposing here would be having Walt Disney adapt a Charles Bukowski novel, and I hope that helps you see how misguided it is.

Singing the song intact would not mean you're endorsing the use of the word "faggot" as an insult, merely that you're acknowledging that's the kind of word a drunken, angry, working class character like the woman in the song might throw around at moments of stress. Prissily tidying up her language rips the heart from MacGowan's honest depiction of that character. She's as likely to reach for the word "braggart" in this situation as I am to start spouting Latin in casual conversation. Making your bowdlerisation rhyme (however awkwardly) is not the only issue here.

As you'll gather, I'm very uneasy about attempts to air-brush any art (high or low) before daring to expose it to the public. In support of this view, I would cite the following:

"No-one has the right not to be offended." - John Cleese.

"Being offended is the natural consequence of leaving one's home. [...] When it is necessary to go out of the house [people] must be prepared, as am I, to deal with the unpleasant personal habits of others. That is what 'public' means." - Fran Lebowitz.
Thanks, Slade, you said it better than I could have. I mean I get that it's just an office Christmas party, so really do what you want to do. It's not like you're releasing an album or anything. Still it really fucks up the song to change it like that.
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Old 12-08-2013, 02:37 PM
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I'm European and I don't think it is jolly and festive.

It is sentimental, though. That horrible booze-fuelled Celtic sentimentality that staggers up to you. throws its arms around your neck, slurs "Y're me bes' friend you 're. I rilly, rilly lurve you" and then throws up all over your shoes.

I bloody HATE it.
What accent is that person meant to be talking in?
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Old 12-08-2013, 02:56 PM
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What accent is that person meant to be talking in?
Drunkard.
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Old 12-08-2013, 04:46 PM
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Is slut not kinda offensive too?
Slut is a rude word, not nice but acceptable in a certain situation. Somewhere on or abouts the level of acceptability as fuck or shit.

Faggot is, like nigger, an outright slur. Just pure meanness and unacceptable at all times.

Except for this one. I guess because it's art? Anyway, I'm with the folks that say that sing it, then sing the whole thing and let the little old ladies faint. Otherwise pick a new song. I'm sure the gay fellas in your office are reasonable folks and won't take offense at a song.
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Old 12-08-2013, 05:05 PM
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Faggot is, like nigger, an outright slur. Just pure meanness and unacceptable at all times.
Except when it isn't.
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'Faggot' is also a Irish and Scouse word meaning 'lazy person'. This is the word used in the Irish song 'Fairytale of New York' which caused controversy a few years ago due to British radio stations censoring it, believing it was using the American pejorative meaning. PabloDiablo 15:09, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
I can't find that sense. There is Irish use of the word as meaning a burdensome, worthless person (as an old woman), but not lazy.
Or…

Of course she's not calling him a meatball. AFAIK, the pejorative term for homosexual was originally pretty-much an American thing. Since The Pogues are Irish, and given the context of the lyric, it seems clear that she's calling the man an old woman.
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Old 12-08-2013, 05:46 PM
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I was talking about in the american sense. I know it has other meanings across the drink. Cigarette, bundle of sticks, etc. Just trying to clear up for our european friends just how offensive americans find the word in its pejorative.
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Old 12-08-2013, 05:56 PM
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Just trying to clear up for our european friends just how offensive americans find the word in its pejorative.
Ah, I see.

Still, someone said upthread that no one has the right to not be offended. IMO this is doubly so when the offence taken is due to the takers own ignorance. I recall a 1999 controversy when someone used the word 'niggardly' in reference to a budget, and someone took it as a racial slur. I was once kicked off of a message board because I mentioned I liked faggots & peas at the pub I like to frequent. Hell, I've been admonished in conversations because I used a word someone didn't know! So I say let the lyric stand as written. If someone is offended, use it as a teaching moment.
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Old 12-08-2013, 09:50 PM
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Except when it isn't.

Or…

Of course she's not calling him a meatball. AFAIK, the pejorative term for homosexual was originally pretty-much an American thing. Since The Pogues are Irish, and given the context of the lyric, it seems clear that she's calling the man an old woman.
I'm English from south London and 'faggot' in my neck of the woods certainly didn't mean homosexual when I was growing up (60s). Not that I'm sure what it did mean - it was just a mildly pejorative term, like 'wazzock'

On the other hand, the song takes place in the US, so isn't the word meant to be used in the American sense?
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Old 12-09-2013, 03:05 AM
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Except when it isn't.

Or…

Of course she's not calling him a meatball. AFAIK, the pejorative term for homosexual was originally pretty-much an American thing. Since The Pogues are Irish, and given the context of the lyric, it seems clear that she's calling the man an old woman.
In Ireland, I've never known faggot to be used as anything but a derogatory term for a homosexual. In the context of the song, I always read it as the female character trying to get a rise out of the male character while arguing. She doesn't literally think he's gay but she is insulting him by calling him gay. I'm not Shane McGowan though so perhaps he had something else in mind.

This thread reminds me of a Hurricane Katrina benefit where someone sang "Louisiana, 1927", they changed the word cracker to farmer.

Speaking of Randy Newman songs, I'm not sure if anyone other than Randy would get away with singing that song in polite company.
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Old 12-09-2013, 04:48 AM
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While we're editing lyrics, surely the phrase "You're an old slut on junk" is offensive to sexually voracious women of more mature years who have substance issues.
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Old 12-10-2013, 03:35 AM
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In my previous post the last sentence refers to the song "Rednecks". Oops.
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