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Music For St Patrick's Day

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by Steven G (subscribe)
Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler...Former teacher... Scientist... Published author... Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published March 11th 2019
Music to celebrate being Irish
Ah, St Patrick's Day, when it seems suddenly a full 50% of the Earth's population has Irish Heritage, which is then used as an excuse to drink to excess and then drink some more, usually in pubs allegedly themed after Ireland. You've never had a decent St Patrick's Day until you've discussed the Irish ancestors you share with a group of people representing four different continents, all while downing more Guinness than the human liver was designed to absorb.

That was 1993 and that night gets blurry after about 10:30pm.
St Patrick, St Paddy, Alcohol, drunk, man
The things we do while 'under the influence' on St Paddy's Day…

Anyway, one other thing of note about St Paddy's Day is the music.

Oh, man, has Ireland given us some awesome music!

And that is the other thing about St Paddy's – singing along to some awesome music. Here in Adelaide we were lucky to have a band called The Borderers who we would watch a lot, but at this time of the year were particular favourites (and you can hardly go wrong with one of the best Australian albums of the early 2000s – Inspired!). But they are not the Irish music I am writing about – this is music by Irish people.

And, in that vein, for a night of drunken debauchery*, here is a playlist of 15 songs to inspire and encourage you to sing…
(*actual debauchery not encouraged)

Of course, as per usual, these are all songs I like. That is the only other criterion apart from the songs being by an Irish person/group that this list has. Now, some notable omissions, I guess. I am not a huge fan of Van Morrison, Therapy? or Ash… and I can't stand B*Witched, Boyzone or Westlife. The Chieftains just missed out here, as did Celtic Thunder, Celtic Woman, Hothouse Flowers and Hozier. And I really wanted to include Gilbert O'Sullivan, but just couldn't.

Oh, and I broke my own rules for one of the songs at the end, by a non-Irish personage who claims Irish heritage, but the song fits so brilliantly.

So, my St Patrick's Day playlist!

Clannad – 'Robin (The Hooded Man)'

Let's start with a piece of traditional Irish music couched in popular themes and music. While not a singalong song, it certainly sets the mood for an Irish night. Nice and pleasant, and the haunting music and whispered voice adds a nice atmosphere. The TV series it came from was decent (at least in its first season) and the music really helped.

Enya – 'Orinoco Flow'

From there, let's keep that modern take on traditional Irish themes and go with something a little more upbeat. This song has a very pleasant staccato string section and Enya's voice is suitably glorious. I have no idea what the song means, but it is a really nice piece of music.

The Corrs – 'Runaway'

Now, the traditional Irish music is upped with more pop sensibilities as the Corrs have a decent ballad with this song. The voices in harmony are glorious, as is the case with most Corrs songs (their version of Fleetwood Mac's 'Dreams' is wonderful) and this song is a very nice way to keep the playlist rolling along.

Sinιad O'Connor – 'Nothing Compares 2 U'

This Prince-penned song was a huge hit for the shaven-headed singer, and understandably so – the song is magnificent, made all the better by O'Connor's incredible voice and emotive singing style. She feels this song, and it sounds like it. The Irish pop scene was really quite good, and none exemplified it better than Sinιad.

Feargal Sharkey – 'Loving You'

The former lead singer of the Undertones had a slew of solo hits in the mid-80s, but nothing can beat the passion in his voice as he sings this, his first solo single. The soaring lyrics, his quavering voice, the sparse orchestration – it comes together magnificently.

Rory Gallagher – 'For The Last Time'

The Blues is a music of the downtrodden and the underprivileged. Which European peoples could sing the Blues better than the Irish in that regard? Rory Gallagher was a fine exponent of the Blues, and his music at this time of the playlist just sets that Irish feel.

Gary Moore – 'Still Got The Blues'

But if we're talking Blues, we cannot go past Gary Moore, who I've talked about before. His guitar playing marked him as one of the finest modern exponents of the Blues, and with a song like this, get ready for drunken air guitar playing with the weirdest of faces being pulled. Trust me – it's hilarious, but you can't help yourself.

Chris De Burgh – 'Don't Pay The Ferryman'

Now we up the tempo. This song was a hit in 1982 (though I forgot it when writing that column) and its chorus invites a sing-along. The themes are dark and Classical in nature, something that you simply do not hear often enough in modern music. But its darkness is also there in the music, and this song is really quite good.

Brendan Bowyer – 'The Hucklebuck'

This brings us to the 1960s and some classic dance-pop. This song should get the party kicking along nicely, with a dance you can just make up as you go along, and sing along to just because it's such a fun bit of pre-Beatles fluff.

U2 – 'Sunday Bloody Sunday'

So we hit the rock part of the playlist. U2 have become such a stalwart of music across the world it's sometimes easy to forget their origins. Now, I like a lot of U2's music, and finding one song was hard to put in here, but I decided on one of their earlier ones because of the Irishness of it. Singing along is easy. Or, should I say, screaming along, because that's what we did.

The Undertones – 'Teenage Kicks'

Now we hit that rock period at the end of the punk boom of the 1970s, and The Undertones with their classic song. While most people doing the St Paddy's Day thing are not teenagers any longer, this song brings that back to mind, and the chorus is not so much a yell of righteous triumph as a cry of regret at what we've lost. Great song.

Thin Lizzy – 'Boys Are Back In Town'

A classic rock song next, that most people would at least pretend to know the words to as they drank and sang along in the Irish Pub celebration context. Phil Lynott's vocals are perfect and the band are in fine form here in what has become one of the all-time classic songs of the 1970s. Another song to get your air guitar groove on to.

Denis Leary – 'Traditional Irish Folk Song'

Now, I usually don't include comedy songs in these lists, but it's Irish, and the Irish are renowned for their excellent sense of humour. And at the end of a St Patrick's Day playlist, you should have some humour you can sing along to and enjoy. So I will start with the only non-Irish person on the list. I know, I excluded The Borderers for not being Irish, but this song is so perfect that I had to include it. It encapsulates Irishness so perfectly and is easy to yell along to.

Dropkick Murphys – 'Drink And Fight'

A song similar to Leary's in tone and content, but just as good and just as much fun to yell along to. These two songs are so brilliant.

Jimeoin – 'Danny Man'

And let's finish the playlist with another comedy song, from Jimeoin about being Irish, updating 'Danny Boy' so brilliantly it is awesome. Back in the late 90s, we had this song on constant rotation one night at the end of the night (I owned the cassette single), and even played the video on VCR (recorded off Rage) and we ended up being able to act out most of the video clip. Alcohol makes you do strange, embarrassing things.

St Patrick, St Paddy, Alcohol, dog, green
Of course, not everyone enjoys the day.

And that's my St Patrick's Day playlist! Hope you enjoyed it.

What did I miss? What did I leave out? Comments, etc. are always most welcome.
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Why? You need music to celebrate St Paddy's Day
Where: Everywhere
Your Comment
The Hucklebuck.....Weirdest song I've ever heard!!!
by Bec W (score: 1|23) 277 days ago
So many great songs. I love the Brit-Celtic bands The Pogues and Waterboys for great Irish tunes.
by May Cross (score: 3|5489) 277 days ago
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