Sunday, October 10, 2010

"A New England" by Kirsty MacColl

Born this day in 1959, Kirsty MacColl was a different kind of pop star; foregoing the glamour trap, she preferred to be known for her solid musicianship, and was. Likewise, her unwillingness to conform to genre - she performed in whatever oeuvre struck her, from punk to torch to Latin - meant that the narrow-minded record industry had nowhere to put her.

Beginning with this song - A New England - which was written by Billy Bragg, MacColl became known as a 'cover queen'; whether she was covering other people's songs, or they were covering hers (most famously, Tracey Ullman with They Don't Know and, more recently, Bette Midler, whose version of In These Shoes appears on her album Bathhouse Betty and was featured on Sex and the City), spoke of MacColl's lack of ego. Arguably her biggest hit is a duet with the Pogues called Fairytale of New York which reappears every Christmas.

Her tragic death in December 2000 at the hands of Mexican millionaire Guillermo González Nova has never been satisfactorily resolved; nevertheless, a memorial bench in London's Soho Square has given her friends and fans alike a place to congregate on the Sunday nearest this date to sing her songs in remembrance.
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