In The Mix - Irish Music in March
Mar 03, 2013 | 1395 views | 3 3 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Emblazoned on a beam in the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland reads, "Everyone's Irish on March 17.” This, of course, refers to St. Patrick’s Day and the anniversary of St. Patrick’s death in the year 461. Not a legal holiday here in the United States, but a celebrated day and night of Irish and Irish American culture. The wearing of green, consumption of alcohol and food, parades, dancing and religious observances encompass this great day. For me, it is a time when I revisit the richness and diversity of great Irish music.

Over the years, Ireland has produced some of the most moving and popular songs, which have become classics here in America. Traditional Irish folk music has had enormous influence on some of our greatest artists, such as Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. The story of Irish music is intertwined with its history. It was an occupied country for nearly a thousand years and it fought back in two ways: in battle and in song. Now, being an Italian, what would I know about Irish music anyway? I decided to ask two local Irish residents about their favorite songs (and maybe some that are not favorites).

Singer-songwriter Sin Silver (formerly of County Clare, Ireland) says: “My go-to song would be 'Whiskey in the Jar,’ a rousing drinking song. As I always say, if you haven't drunk whiskey on the Cork & Kerry Mountains, add it to the bucket list. The Cork & Kerry Mountains are stunning, some of the most beautiful countryside in Ireland. The song has been covered by Thin Lizzy (a great Irish band) and Metallica. 'The Fields of Athenry' would be one of my ballads of choice. Arguably over-sung, but still conveys those great Irish emotions of longing and loss. 'The Seven Deadly Sins' is a terrific song made famous by the Dubliners. Not as well-known as ‘Seven Drunken Nights,’ but terrific humorous lyrics. Ronnie Drew, with his raspy Dublin lilt, does justice to this song. 'Galway Girl,’ a modern Irish song that is huge in Ireland but written by a yank, none other than the great Steve Earle. Makes you want to get up and dance with your neighbor. My absolute favorite Irish song? ‘Spancil Hill.’ Worst songs? I don't mean to offend anyone because these songs have a special place in many a heart, but from my perspective, they are over played and a touch 'stage Irish.' The word cheesy comes to mind.

‘Toora Loora Loora’ and ‘When Irish Eyes are smiling!’”

City of Pleasant Hill’s Public Information Officer Martin Nelis (former resident of Derry, Ireland) said: “Best song is ‘Song for Ireland.’ Search for it on YouTube and listen to the Mary Black version. The lyrics are beautiful. My other favorite is The Muppets’ version of ‘Danny Boy.’” Really Martin? The Muppets? But I will definitely check out all these tunes.

My favorite songs combine the traditional and pop side. As I revisit some of these great classics, I will not only enjoy them on March 17, but year round. (This list might make my Irish friends defriend me on Facebook) but here it goes:

1) “Sunday Bloody Sunday” – U2

2) “One” - U2

3) “I don’t like Mondays” - The Boomtown Rats

4) “The Irish Rover” - The Pogues/The Dubliners

5) “Long Journey Home” - Elvis Costello

6) “Danny Boy” - Shane MacGowan and The Popes

7) “Molly Malone” - The Dubliners

8) “Into the Mystic” - Van Morrison

9) “The Foggy Dew” - The Chieftains/Sinead O’Connor

10) “Whiskey in the Jar” – The Clancy Brothers

So get out there on March 17, find some Irish music, have a pint and sing!

Chime in with your favorite Irish songs on our website:

Also, if you are in the mood to hear a fabulous Irish songstress, please check out Sin Silver on St. Paddy’s day at the Rellik Tavern in Benicia from 1 - 4pm. Or the night before at Christ the King dinner-dance in Pleasant Hill on March 16, from 5:30 to 9pm. Please check out her website at

Quote of the month:

“Never iron a four-leaf clover, because you don't want to press your luck.”

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April 14, 2013
Great selections as always! Here are a few more, from various genres:

Grada -- Tread Softly [lovely, folky band]

Grand Slam -- Sisters of Mercy [the genius Phil Lynott's post-Thin Lizzy band, which sadly never got off the ground before he died, but the soul was still there]

Sinead O'Connor -- Jerusalem [a force of nature]

Stiff Little Fingers -- Alternative Ulster [classic early political punk]

Moloko -- Take My Hand [great dance pop band featuring the beautiful Roisin Murphy, who Lady Gaga has repeatedly ripped off, at least fashion-wise]

Them -- Hey Girl [Van Morrison's great band]

Enya -- Orinoco Flow [ethereal stuff, and when she appeared on the scene, there was no one doing anything like this, except maybe Kate Bush]

The Raspberries -- Linger [I didn't like them much, as I thought they ripped off much better artists, like Sinead O'Connor and The Sundays, but I couldn't deny this one]

The Frames/The Swell Season -- Falling Slowly [won an Oscar for the movie "Once," this one is hopeful and heartbreaking at the same time]

These are all on YouTube, for the interested.
April 18, 2013
Oops! Senior moment. I meant the Cranberries, not the Raspberries. The Raspberries were great -- "Go All the Way," "I Wanna Be With You," "Overnight Sensation," etc.
April 29, 2013
What a GREAT list! Thanks.