The Pogues – Fairytale of New York

The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale of New York (Chords)

One of the joys of Christmas is that Shane MacGowan is on the radio and TV as often as he should be the whole year round. Since the BBC has decided that the words ‘faggot’ and ‘slut’ are perfectly fine and it looks like being Christmas number one, here’s Fairytale of New York.

I tried a bunch of different ways to play the intro and narrowed it down to two. This one:
Fairytale of New York Pogues intro ukulele tab

And this one:
Fairytale of New York Pogues intro ukulele tab

I prefer the second one because of all the open strings.

I had a tendency to get a little lost in the chords during the penny-whistle parts, so I had to start counting. For the first one, after ‘…dreams come true’ and the repeat of the intro:

D,2,3. D,2,3. D,2,3. A,2,3. D,2,3. G,2,3. A,2,3. D,2,3.

The second (after the first chorus) is even trickier to follow:

D,2,3. A,2,3. Bm,2,3. G,2,3. D,2,3. D,2,3. D,2,3. A,2,3.

D,2,3. Bm,2,3. D,2,3. G,2,3. D,2,3. D,2,3. A,2,3. D,2,3.


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  1. weelie December 21st, 2007 9:30 am

    This is my xmas numero uno. We even played it at the pre-jam of our uke xmas party a week ago. I only sang backing vocals, as I had no clue about the chords.

  2. Woodshed December 21st, 2007 6:51 pm

    It’s definitely one of my favourites too. Possibly number two after Helen Love.

  3. Jimmy December 24th, 2007 2:02 pm

    Super cool. At science class we were learning the reaction of sugar on teeth, and the powerpoint that went with it was just a photo of Shane McGowan. Hm.

    The perfect Crimbo-Uke hit!

  4. Stephie January 19th, 2008 7:00 am

    This is smashing! This song warms the cockles of my heart! Huge Pogues fan and a newbie Uke player….yippee!

  5. Woodshed January 19th, 2008 3:45 pm

    Glad you like it, Stephie.

  6. Harry December 23rd, 2008 11:27 pm

    Nicely done!
    My Dad on guitar, Sister on piano and Me on banjo- uke, go hillbilly on this song and have a family jam!

    Great Job!

  7. Woodshed December 27th, 2008 9:37 am

    Harry: Sounds like a lot of fun.

  8. Christmas Ukearist! « Monday Ukearist November 28th, 2009 10:06 am

    […] Fairy Tale of New York (We have to do this one!)  There’s a twiddly bit too that folk can learn if they choose […]

  9. UkePeas December 16th, 2010 8:05 pm

    what would you suggest the strumming patern to be?

  10. emanuele April 17th, 2011 10:47 am

    Great song! Thank you!

  11. davix December 8th, 2011 11:48 am

    Brill! love this song… you are helping this newbie to get to grips with the uke.Thanx again woodshed.

  12. Paul Redfern December 9th, 2011 9:45 am

    The second penny whistle part is actually the a repeat of the first 4 lines of the 3rd verse (the one immediately before the chorus). So while playing this section, if you sing/think to yourself ‘They’ve got cars big as bars…’ through to ‘…Broadway was waiting for me’, you’ll find the rhythm and the chord changes come quite naturally.
    As to UkePeas’ query regarding the strumming pattern, there’s actually 3 different time signatures in this song. The first two verses are in 4/4 time, the penny-whistle parts, last 3 verses and choruses are in 6/8 time, and there’s one bar of 5/4 time linking the two sections.
    The 6/8 section is what James Hill would call ‘metrical triplets’ so that’s how I’d play that, triplet strums all the way from the first penny-whistle part right through to the end.

  13. Woodshed December 10th, 2011 1:32 pm

    Paul: Thanks for the pointers.

  14. Angie December 11th, 2013 5:04 pm

    Thanks for this one!! I love this song ^^

  15. Woodshed December 11th, 2013 9:48 pm

    Angle: Glad you liked it!

  16. Ashley November 17th, 2016 9:45 am

    Thanks for this, Al!! I’m planning on playing this with my band for a show in December and I’m just learning it, so this should be a big help!

  17. Woodshed November 17th, 2016 10:59 am

    Ashley: That’s great! Hope you have a blast.

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