This song was written by the band The Pogues in 1987. It tells the story of two Irish immigrants who are living on the streets of New York City. The song is a duet between Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl and each tell things from their point of view.
This back and forth in the lyrics is where the controversy comes from. Shane sings the first part and Kirsty’s character answers back
You’re a punk
You’re an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God it’s our last
People have long since tried to censor the song for including the words slut and faggot. The BBC did ban the song for a short time but reversed that decision.
Recently Shane was on the Irish version of The Late Show and was asked about the offensive nature of his lyrics. Instead of groveling to appease the sensitive crowd Shane defended his lyrics
“She is not supposed to be a nice person, or even a wholesome person. She is a woman of a certain generation at a certain time in history and she is down on her luck and desperate.”
“She is just supposed to be an authentic character and not all characters in songs and stories are angels or even decent and respectable, sometimes characters in songs and stories have to be evil or nasty in order to tell the story effectively.”
That is an excellent explanation. There was no intention to be defamatory, it’s bad words from a bad person. It’s how someone on the streets would have talked at the time it was written. Basically, fuck off.
It’s refreshing to hear someone stand their ground and not cater to the PC warriors.