Anyway, here is my annual list of Top Ten St. Patrick's Day Songs. If you're having a party, download these songs and make them part of your playlist. If you're going to a bar, you better damn well find these on the jukebox. If you're not doing anything, listen to these songs anyway and have a fifth of Paddy's while you try to figure out how to make your situation better.
So, here are my Top Ten St. Patrick's Day songs, in no particular order.
10. "Whiskey in the Jar" by Thin Lizzy.
You can't have a list involving Irish music without this traditional Irish folk song or without Ireland's greatest rockers (take that, U2!). "Whiskey in the Jar" is a story of an Irish highwayman who is betrayed by his woman. Man, I've been there. It was a No. 1 hit in Ireland for 17 straight weeks in 1972 and a top ten hit on the UK charts a year later. If you are at Rocks on St. Patrick's Day, you will hear this song many times.
9. "Shamrocks and Shenanigans" by House of Pain.
Boom shalock lock boom! This song may not be the most lyrically or musically complex offering on this list, but its title does represent what St. Patrick's Day is all about (aside from banishing snakes).
8. "Danny Boy" by Johnny Cash.
There are many versions of "Danny Boy," but I'm a fan of this one because it's from one of the Man in Black's final albums (2002's American IV: The Man Come Around), and it sounds like Cash is singing for his own impending funeral. It's eerie, but beautiful at the same time.
7. "Drunken Lullabies" by Flogging Molly.
Along with Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly are the leaders of the modern Celtic punk genre (which is interesting, considering their lead singer, Dave King, was once the high-wailing singer of early '80s metal band Fastway). Anyway, this song is high-energy, fun as hell, and has been featured in St. Patrick's Day beer commercials (Killian's, I believe, which is interesting, considering Killian's isn't an Irish beer, kind of sucks, and is the reason Caffrey's is no longer imported into the U.S. Thanks Coors.).
6. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" by U2.
To combat the fun-loving, drinking-themed songs, one must only look as far as Ireland's most popular rockers to bring you back down to the intra-island strife that has plagued Ireland since Partition (and even before). "Sunday Bloody Sunday" has always been one of my favorite U2 songs. It's about the 1972 event in Derry, Northern Ireland, where British troops shot at unarmed civil rights marchers, killing 13 (interestingly, this is one of several "Bloody Sundays" throughout modern Irish history).
5. "The Way Young Lovers Do" by Van Morrison.
It was tough trying to pick a Van Morrison song for this list. "Brown-Eyed Girl" is too cliché, the entire Moondance album is great, but none of the songs seemed to fit with a St. Patrick's Day theme. Thus, I went with one of my favorites off of Astral Weeks, "The Way Young Lovers Do," since it's upbeat and generally all right. Somehow, Grooveshark didn't have this, so it's not on the Playlist below.
4. "Alternative Ulster" by Stiff Little Fingers.
This is just a great, catchy punk song by Belfast-based Stiff Little Fingers. The opening riff has shades of Irish influences, before busting into a frenzied song -- written at the height of the IRA/Unionist violence -- encouraging the citizens of Ulster (that's Northern Ireland for those unfamiliar with Irish history) to bring about a positive change to the violence.
3. "Streams of Whiskey" by The Pogues.
A St. Patrick's Day list wouldn't be complete without The Pogues. This song seemed like a fitting one to include, since I plan on bathing myself in streams of whiskey on Saturday. Another solid Pogues choice would have been "The Sick Bed Of Cuchulainn," so I included that in the playlist too.
2. "Kiss Me I'm Shitfaced" by Dropkick Murphys.
The title says it all. I also included on the playlist their more famous song, "I'm Shipping Up to Boston," which was featured in The Departed and now, unfortunately, at Red Sox games and in Tilted Kilt commercials.
1. "Róisín Dubh (Black Rose): A Rock Legend" by Thin Lizzy.
From the Irish Gaelic title based on a Sixteenth Century Irish political song to the bombastic dueling lead guitars to the moment Phil Lynott's vocals kick in ("Tell me the legends of long ago . . .") to the Irish-influenced guitar break to the "yeeeeeeeep" during the guitar break to the post-guitar break moment when Lynott's vocal kick in again ("Oohhhhhhhh, tell me the legends of long ago . . .") and the following ode to all things Irish, from folklore to literature to music, this is an undying, Irish epic and (as if you couldn't tell) one of my favorite Thin Lizzy songs.