Performed by the Pogues with help from Kirsty MacColl. You can hear the recorded version here. You can hear live versions here, here and here. Here’s a live version with Sinead O’Connor singing the female part (not a great recording).
A sad tale saved from pure sentimentality by some gritty lines and gutty singing, the song opens on a snowy Christmas Eve in the New York City drunk tank. A mournful piano plays in the background. An old man declares it will be his last (“won’t see another one”), then breaks into a version of “The Rare Old Mountain Dew,” an old time Irish ballad (click here for a version by the Dubliners). Here’s our Irish boy stuck in jail on Christmas Eve a long way from home. The combination of the drink, the old man’s singing and the Christmas holiday send the singer into reverie thinking about his love.