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: www.ourcommunityfocus.com.
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 www.sinsilverandtheavenue.com.
Quote of the month:
“Never iron a four-leaf clover, because you don't want to press your luck.”