The Heartwarming Story Behind The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York Video

On a freezing November night in 1987, the Irish-American officers of the New York Police Department Pipes and Drums band found themselves unexpectedly cast as the boys of the NYPD choir in The Pogues’ famous music video for Fairytale of New York. This heartwarming and humorous story recalls the unique collaboration between two iconic groups and the lasting impact it had on both the band and the NYPD.

The video shoot took place in Manhattan’s Washington Square Park, during one of the coldest nights of the year. The bagpipers and drummers arrived for their second gig of the night and were surprised to learn that they wouldn’t actually be playing their instruments during the shoot. The Pogues wanted to capture the authenticity of New York’s Irish heritage, specifically referencing the NYPD choir in the lyrics of their song. Although such a choir didn’t exist, the band decided that the bagpipers and drummers would be the next best thing.

Clad in their full regalia, the group stood beside their instruments and mouthed the words to what was originally meant to be the song Galway Bay. However, there was a small problem – the group only knew a handful of Irish tunes, none of which were known by everyone. In a stroke of genius, one of the band members suggested singing the theme song to the Mickey Mouse Club, a tune familiar to all. And so, in subzero temperatures, they began belting out “Mickey Mouse!” to match the rhythm of The Pogues’ music.

Despite the initial confusion, the group had a great time shooting the video. Shane MacGowan, the frontman of The Pogues who passed away at the age of 65, entertained them with his drunken antics throughout the night. One memorable scene involved MacGowan throwing an officer’s mace high into the air, to everyone’s amazement and relief when he caught it effortlessly.

The video for Fairytale of New York aired on MTV and quickly became a hit, propelling the song to the top of the charts in the UK and Ireland. The members of the NYPD Pipes and Drums band, including Kevin P McCarthy, were proud to have been a part of a song that captured the spirit of New York and resonated with people down on their luck during the Christmas season. McCarthy, now a retired NYPD detective, continues to receive phone calls every few years from journalists and documentarians wanting to hear the story behind the iconic video.

This heartwarming tale not only highlights the unexpected collaboration between two groups from different backgrounds but also underscores the enduring impact of music on people’s lives. Fairytale of New York continues to be a beloved Christmas song, reminding listeners of the power of unity and the importance of cherishing the memories we create together. The friendship that developed between The Pogues and the NYPD Pipes and Drums band serves as a testament to the connections that can be forged through shared experiences, even if they begin on a cold and frosty night in Washington Square Park.