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She could make a song her own and she made 'Fairytale' her own." The title came last.Elvis had suggested 'Christmas Day in the Drink Tank'.I'm ushered inside by Steve, a fresh-faced youth I take to be the studio gofer.He says Kirsty is on her way and makes me a coffee.On first hearing, I deemed the raggle-taggle playing too clunky, and the ragged singing too hokey.I even wagered a work colleague a tenner that it wouldn't make Number 1.Most acts would put together a tour to plug the gap until a new deal came along, but she'd been afflicted with crippling stage fright caught on her very first tour - a confidence-shattering jaunt around Ireland's ballrooms during her first flush of fame. I was under-rehearsed, I'd never fronted a band before and the first place we got to was Mallow where I found myself staring out at 1,800 people and I just panicked! It was torture for everybody." Her electrifying performance as Shane Mac Gowan's foil had restored her self-confidence and a touring comeback was now in sight for a woman who wasn't the first choice for 'Fairytale', nor even the second.Success has many parents, and 'Fairytale' has several creation stories, but the most widely accepted is that Shane and co-writer Jem Finer accepted a bet from producer Elvis Costello that they couldn't write a non-slushy Christmas duet for Shane and Pogues bassist Cait O'Riordan. The wager was made in 1985, along with a rough demo.
Finer was reading JP Donleavy's 1973 novel A Fairy Tale of New York, so they lifted that as a warmer, festive choice.'Fairytale' duly stalled at Number 2, held off by The Pet Shop Boys' camp, swooshy version of 'Always on My Mind'.Pocketing my winnings back at work in January, it somehow felt like taking dirty money.They didn't know Galway Bay so they played 'The Mickey Mouse Club March' instead.With a sprinkle of studio magic, the end product was a memorable video worthy of an enchanting song.