This week’s playlist is dedicated to St. Patrick’s Day and to one of my favorite Irish rock bands: Dropkick Murphys. While Patty’s Day isn’t quite the same this year; we can still celebrate Irish culture together by collectively cracking a cold one and throwing on the playlist below from our respective quarantined comfort zones. It won’t be the same as bellowing out the lyrics in your local Irish pub but the spirit of the Irish can never be dimmed and our drinks never empty!! So raise a glass to St. Patty and raise one to your family and let’s all stay safe and healthy this St. Patrick’s Day…
…It’s in that spirit that I feel a story is necessary (if only to make us think of better times and to forget about what’s going on for a little bit)….Today I’ll tell you a story about one particular March 17 in 2009…
It was a cold and dreary San Francisco morning. The temperature was in the low fifties yet I was wearing short green shorts and a #5 Garnett Celtics jersey. I wasn’t yet 21 but I had an ID that said I was. I was walking up and down Geary boulevard with my cousins going to bars with names like “Ireland’s 32, “Blarney Stone” and “The Bitter End.” We’d been up for hours already and as my Grandma would have said: I was in my cups, I was three sheets to the wind and I was flushed. My cousins and I managed to stumble our way back home so that we could continue the celebration in the relative safety of our home. It was then that I looked around and found myself alone sitting on my cousin’s couch. I said to myself “self, it would be nice to get some fresh air.” So out I stepped into the cold San Francisco afternoon. I breathed in a huge breath of cold Bay area air…… and began vomiting. For my part it was a quick evacuation but I’m sure my situation did not look pleasant. When I looked up from my heaving, I saw the worst thing I ever could have spotted: A paddy wagon. (For those who don’t know…a “paddy wagon” is like a police van in which officers will pick up drunken youths like myself to whisk them off into drunk tanks to sober up and get them off the streets.) Obviously, I wanted to continue my drinking so I wanted no part of being locked in a wagon, van or any sort of vehicle for that matter. I pleaded my case, stumbling and slurring words together until it got to the point where they were about to lock me in the van and throw away the key. As all this was happening though… my light and savior came to the rescue… it was my cousin Nora. All I remember was Nora grabbing me firmly and pulling me towards the house. I heard her saying things to the officers and before I knew it I was back on the couch. I had been saved from the drunk tank, saved from the paddy wagon and saved from the embarrassment of not being able to hold my liquor….
…So as we raise our glasses up today, raise em up to your family and your loved ones, who’ll never leave you hanging and will always stand by your side. Nora, this one is for you and for the rest of you, enjoy this playlist…
- Cadence to Arms: Kicking this Dropkick playlist off with bagpipes and hard rock seems only fitting. Plus, it leads perfectly into…
- Smash Shit Up: Dropkick’s most recent release and the song that got me listening to them again. This track is classic Murphys with lyrics like “I wanna be a rebel// I wanna break some bones// Maybe they’ll be yours// They might be my own” and it holds an energy that seems great for St. Patrick’s Day even though we’re all cooped up. Try not to smash too much shit up.
- Finnegan’s Wake: Murphys take on a classic Irish folk song made popular by the Dubliners. Dropkick ratchets up the energy considerably in their version inducing near manic levels of irish debauchery. As such, it’s a great song to mosh to and also a great follow up to Smash Shit Up. It also revs us up for….
- The Spicy McHaggis Jig: Best sung at the top of your lungs with copious amounts of liquor in your system… “THREE PACKS A DAY, HE’LL SMOKE ‘TIL HE DIES!!!// SPICY MCHAGGIS, ONE HELL OF A GUUUUUYYYYYY!!!”
- Captain Kelly’s Kitchen: Another Murphys take on a popular Irish folk song. The pace is what catches me on this song and memories of sitting at Irish Feis’ watching my sister and cousins dance for hours and hours.
- The Fighting 69th: One of my favorite Irish folk songs of all time and one of the first songs I heard where I could see the story unfolding as I listened. Dropkick does a good job but my favorite version of all time is done by a Curley family favorite band called The Fenians.
- The Green Fields of France: The Warrior’s Code is probably my favorite Dropkick Murphys album. Not only is it their most popular album, filled with some fan favorite tracks but it also has some deep cuts. Green Fields of France is one of those tracks for me. Between my love of history and hearing a good story, Irish folk music always manages to deliver and this song is no different. More somber than the other tracks we’ve heard so far but what’s an Irish celebration without a little death?
- For Boston: This one is dedicated to my grandma, God rest her soul. Everytime I hear it, I think of her and I think about how proud she was to be from South Boston and to be a Southie.
- I’m Shipping Up to Boston: I was going to leave this track off. It’s so overplayed and I’ve probably heard it over 1,000 times. Ultimately though, no Dropkick Murphys playlist would be complete without this track. Plus, it gets you nice and ready to scream your lungs out to….
- The Wild Rover: If you’ve made it this far, I’ll assume you’re nice and toasty by this point in which case screaming out the chorus probably seems like a great idea: “And it’s no, nay, never!!!// No, nay never no more// Will I play the wild rover// no never no more!” I’ve sung this song drunk surrounded by my cousins and family, I’ve sung this song at Dropkick concerts while moshing my brains out, I’ve even sang this song to myself while stumbling home drunk after a long St. Patrick’s Day of drinking. Wild Rover is a vibe if ever an Irish folk song could have a vibe.
- Forever: “Inspired me truly, you did from the start// To not be afraid and to follow my heart// There’s a piece of you with me they can’t tear apart… Forever…”
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