The Emerald Isle

Thanks For Your Support: Thanks to everybody who has so generously contributed to keep Cover Freak going for another year. I particularly want to thank Kiwi Sue for issuing her inspirational challenge, and the Metal Goddess for her evil contribution. If you haven’t yet contributed there’s still time. That big orange button at the top of the left column isn’t going anywhere.

Attention iPhones And iPads: I’ve updated the plugin that puts an arrow next to the music links that you can click on for quick-n-easy listening. That feature is now available to users of Apple’s mobile devices. Enjoy!

One of the things I didn’t put in my bio on the site is the fact that I’m an Irish citizen. Ireland has this very cool law that makes you eligible for citizenship if any one of your grandparents was born in Ireland. Since my grandparents came over on the boat I signed up as quickly as I could. My old Irish passport was expiring so I picked up my new one last week. Which of course led to this week’s musical travelogue. I could have just saved this theme until St. Patrick’s Day, but that would be too easy. You’d expect that. And I pride myself on zigging when you expect me to zag.

Scythian “Danny Boy” (Comp. Frederick Weatherly)
This is one of those songs I really hate. It’s so maudlin, and always sung in a way that’s sure to reduce a room full of drunken Irishmen to uncontrollable sobbing. That said, I really like this version. They radically reinvent the rhythm of the tune and sing it as a driving rock song.

The Storyville Jassband “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” (John McCormack)
There’s something about a band from Holland playing a Dixieland jazz version of a song about Ireland that really turns my crank.

Metallica “Whiskey In The Jar” (Traditional)
Thin Lizzy recorded this traditional Irish folk song in the early 70s just to remind everybody that they were indeed Irish. Metallica’s version isn’t all that different from Thin Lizzy’s but it is a little more aggressive. And every folk song about a highwayman getting betrayed by his lover needs all the aggression a performer can muster.

And if you haven’t heard the new album Metallica made with Lou Reed, don’t bother. I was kind of dubious about their collaboration, but the whole idea was so fucked up that I thought it might end up being brilliant. Alas, the result is truly awful. And the really sad part is that it’s still the most musically interesting thing either one has done in years.

Pastel Vespa “The Boys Are Back In Town” (Thin Lizzy)
And speaking of Thin Lizzy, here’s a lounge version of their big international hit. Pastel Vespa is a character created by an Australian singer when she was working on a cruise ship. I really dig her non-specific Eurotrash accent.

Elvis Costello “Third Rate Romance” (Amazing Rhythm Aces)
I guess I really should have at least one actual Irish artist in this post, eh? I guess you could argue that Elvis Costello is English since he was born in England to Irish parents, but there’s something about him that’s always stuck me as quintessentially Irish. While Elvis Costello is a cool stage name, I ┬áthink that his real name Declan McManus is even cooler. But then what do I know about marketing popular musicians?

Part of the appeal of the Amazing Rhythm Aces’ version is the whole tawdry Jimmy-Buffet-gone-to-seed vibe. But I do like the syncopated 50s spin Elvis puts on it.


  1. You’re Irish for sure. That explains the sense of humour and gift of the gab. Although I think in Irish-speak they say fooked or feck….

    I love how just about everyone in NZ suddenly becomes Irish on March 17th, frolicking around all done up in green and getting drunk and stuff.

    Ay diddly-potatoes!

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