A reading from the book of Shane MacGowan:
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
Have you ever heard a better opening to a song than that one, from "Fairytale of New York" by MacGowan's Irish folk-punk band, the Pogues? In just four lines, he's drawn an indelible scene with lifelike characters rooted in a specific cultural context facing high emotional stakes; all of a sudden, you desperately need to know how this guy ended up in jail and who it is he's dreaming about. He continues:
Got on a lucky one, came in 18-to-1
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
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