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Fill to Me the Parting Glass
By Garrett Riggs
If you’re looking for a list of Irish Drinking Songs to listen to while you swill green beer, move along to Buzzfeed or some other site that specializes in that sort of thing. This is about good, soulful Irish music across genres and decades. Put some of these on your playlist and there is a chance that your decision to sport a “Kiss Me, I’m Irish (today)” T-shirt and a headband with the springy shamrocks will be forgiven.
(Note: Irish music is best appreciated live, so whenever possible live versions of the songs have been tracked down for your listening pleasure.)
Seán Ó Riada helped revive interest in traditional Irish music in the 1960s, bringing the bodhran (a simple frame drum) out of the hands of boys on parade and back to prominence on the stage. “Marcshlua Uí Néill” is one of his compositions that features the bodhran and tin whistle. Put this on and people will be ready to do battle.
The Chieftans overlap with Sean O’Riada, first finding fame in the ‘60s. One of the founding members, Paddy Moloney, actually got his start in Ceoltóirí Chualann, which was a group that was led by Seán Ó Riada. Over the past 50 years, they have brought traditional Irish music to audiences all over the globe, contributed to soundtracks, and like Willie Nelson made duets with everybody and their uncle. Here they are with Carolina Chocolate Drops doing “Pretty Little Girl.”
Planxty was another band that specialized in traditional Irish folk music. Each member of the band also had tremendous solo careers. This clip of the band playing "Raggle Taggle Gypsy O” from 1973 shows off the wonderful musicianship of Donal Lunny, Andy Irvine, Liam O’ Floinn, and Christy Moore when he had hair. If striped sweaters and bell-bottoms are your thing, this will have you in heaven.
The Bothy Band was only together for about five years, but they were very influential on other traditional musicians. Dónal Lunny founded the band after leaving Planxty and lined up a group of virtuoso musicians who went on to do a number of different projects across all genres of music. Here they are playing, “Old Hag You Have Killed Me (Set of Jigs)”
When Van Morrison released Moondance, critics raved about the poetic lyrics of the songs. Morrison says that he simply wrote down the way people talked as he was growing up in Northern Ireland. “And It Stoned Me,” is a great example with the dialogue from the old man who offers the boys a drink at the end of their fishing trip.
Paul Brady has gotten better with age. And he started out pretty damn perfect. Brady started out playing traditional Irish music with Andy Irvine. Over the years, he has also explored pop and rock. Rumor has it, Bob Dylan is a fan. Here is the young Paul Brady doing a version of "Arthur McBride." And, here is a bit older, doing his song“The Island,” which unfortunately seems just as relevant today as when he wrote it in the 1980s.
Wake up your gathering with some rock ‘n’ roll. Thin Lizzy’s version of “Whiskey in The Jar” adds power chords and guitar solos to update the classic ballad. Phil Lynott’s original lyrics for the band have been collected into a book called “Songs for While I’m Away.”
Sinead O’Connor blends reggae and traditional Irish music on “"Óró Sé Do Bheatha 'Bhaile.” Say what you will about her politics and antics, O’Connor is a great singer and an intense perfomer.
The Saw Doctors blend pop sensibilities with lyrics that reflect life in the small towns of Ireland where people were trying to reconcile conservative Catholic values with the cultural imports and new wealth of Ireland’s tech boom. “Share the Darkness” is a semi-sweet love song--not gushy, not overly romantic, only slightly hopeful that things will work out.
If you have to trot out a drinking song, you can’t go wrong with The Dubliners' “Wild Rover.” Every hipster at the party will be envious of the band’s beards.
Or, maybe The Pogues’ “Streams of Whiskey” which celebrates a life of excess and mentions the playwright and novelist Brendan Behan. Word of caution: half the band appears in their skivvies in the video and it isn’t a pretty sight. Without these guys, you wouldn’t have The Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly.
Ronnie Drew was the other distinctive voice in the Dubliners. He founded the band in the early 1960s. His intro to “Dicey Riley” is as good as the song itself.
Luke Kelly and the Dubliners performed the“Night Visiting Song” a couple of months before Kelly died. This haunting performance is a good way to wind down the night.
A chorus or two of “The Parting Glass” should be a good way to send people on their way into the night. This ensemble includes Andy Irivine, Donal Lunny, Elvis Costello, Paul Brady, and many more. And, yes, that is Fiona Shaw (Aunt Petunia from the Harry Potter movies) introducing the song. If you don't like big polished stage productions, there's always The Pogues' version to send people on their way.
#Real #IrishMusic #SaintPatricksDay #TheDubliners #LukeKelly #TraditionalIrish #IrishRock
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