OK, so I’m not Irish. But I’m Irish by marriage — I married a fair Irish lass. I grew up in an Irish neighborhood. I live in Boston, a city that’s practically overrun by the Irish (hell, it’s so Irish that today is a holiday for government employees… of which I am one!). So I feel I’m somewhat qualified for this. Regardless, since no one else volunteered, I figured that in light of this day, I’d throw a little Irish jig at you.
No, I’m not going to dance. And that wasn’t a black Irish joke, either. Instead, I’d like to present a few of my favorite songs by or about (or both) the people from the Emerald Isle… or at least, by bands descended from there in some cases. I’m sure that PaddyDog will be by shortly to school me even further.
Here we go:
Sinead O’Connor: “The Last Day of Our Acquaintance.” This song is amazing. It’s part heartbreaker, part stand up, take off and never look back, and just all-over beautiful. Sinead’s ability to move from whispery to practically a warcry at the end. This song still makes me shiver a little.
The Pogues: “Streets of Sorrow / Birmingham Six.” This is from 20 years ago, when Pogues lead singer Shane McGowan was a fucking wreck, but not a total fucking wreck like he is these days, Regardless, it’s a real beauty of a song (two songs, really) — politically charged and moving as hell.
Afro Celt Sound System: “Release.” You can thank the lovely Anna von Beaverplatz for reminding me of this incredible group — it’s what eventually inspired this post. Afro Celt Sound System merges African and Celtic musics, as well as some electronica, to create their own wholly unique sound. It’s rather remarkable stuff. You also may have heard them on the Gangs of New York soundtrack, but most of their stuff has been released through Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records.
Dropkick Murphys: “State of Massachusetts.” Oh, come now. You didn’t think I was going to leave these guys off, did you? This is one of their newer songs, from 2007’s The Meanest of Times, and it’s another topical song about the working class and the struggles they face. This is just a great goddamn song.
Luka Bloom: “Second Skin.” I confess, I’m a sucker for some of Bloom’s stuff. His frantic electro-accoustic playing, his energy is pretty engaging. Lyrically he can be amazing. This is a great performance from 1990 of one of my favorite songs.
Flogging Molly: “Seven Deadly Sins.” Fuck it, these guys are just flat-out fun. That’s all that needs to be said.
Black 47: “Funky Céilí.” There are many reasons to love this song — the instrumentation is great; it’s a smooth, smile-inducing blend of guitar, percussion, pennywhistle, uillean pipes, flute, bodhra, and a great bit of horn thrown in for good measure. The hook that is wildly engaging, and lyrically (as usual) Larry Kirwan’s off-kilter, melodic caterwauling is charming and perfect. It’s perfect party music (indeed, a Céilí (or a céilidh in its original spelling) is a kind of dance/party/social gathering. Best reason of all is we named our dog after this song — yup, I have a dog named Céilí.
Clearly, there are 100’s more that could be added. So let’s hear yours, assuming you’re all sober enough to type.
TK can often be found staggering around his back yard, wishing for a zombie attack and shouting at leaves. He studies the dark arts of cheeseburger-making and cultivating the Merciless Pepper of Quetzlzacatenango. He wastes valuable time at Uncooked Meat.