Friday Five: St. Patrick’s Day

Juli Thanki | March 16th, 2012

St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow, so for this Friday Five, we’re paying tribute to country songs about Ireland. There are countless country songs about, or influenced by, the Emerald Isle, but here are five currently in heavy rotation at my house.

5. Dolly Parton — “We Irish”

This is a fun track from 2004’s Live & Well; it’s impossible to be sad when listening to a penny whistle, especially when Dolly Parton’s playing it.

 

4. Steve Earle — “The Galway Girl”

The poor sucker in this song gave his heart to a Galway girl and was left “all alone, with a broken heart and a ticket home.

 

3. Hot Rize — “Colleen Malone”

The uptempo arrangement belies the sadness of the lyrics, which were penned by Leroy Drumm and Pete Goble. A man returns to Ireland after thirteen years away only to discover that his true love passed away in his absence.

 

2. Tim O’Brien — “John Riley”

Today’s Friday Five could have been composed entirely of cuts from O’Brien’s The Crossing album, a fantastic record that showcases the influence of Celtic music on bluegrass and country. This song, written with Guy Clark, tells the story of Jon Riley, who left Ireland during the Potato Famine and ended up enlisting in the US Army. He deserted and then formed the St. Patrick’s Battalion, which fought for Mexico during the Mexican-American War.

1. Johnny Cash — “Danny Boy”

Ray Price, Conway Twitty, Bill Monroe, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Jim Reeves are a few of the country singers who’ve recorded this classic. Cash recorded several versions of the song, but this one, on American IV: The Man Comes Around–an album released less than a year before Cash passed away–breaks my heart every time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqbH-bOTa38

  1. bob
    March 16, 2012 at 10:49 am

    I like that Dolly song, and I’m only half Irish.
    From Collin Raye’s “Counting Sheep” album of children’s music, “Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral (An Irish Lullaby)” (Traditional)

  2. bll
    March 16, 2012 at 11:44 am

    “From Collin Raye’s “Counting Sheep” album of children’s music, “Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral (An Irish Lullaby)” (Traditional)”

    Um that song was written for a Bing Crosby movie and if you asked an Irish performer to sing it they wouldn’t know what you’re on about!

  3. Jon
    March 16, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    The mention of “John Riley” reminds me that the next volume of The 1861 Project will focus on Irish-American involvement on both sides of the US Civil War.

  4. Rick
    March 16, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    I’d add the beautiful self-penned Nora Jane Struthers song “Thistle” to the list. Although the song does not mention Ireland directly, the style is very Celtic in flavor.

    Thank you for not including any songs about green beer…

  5. Jon
    March 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    A couple of YouTube videos of “Colleen Malone” that have much to recommend them:

    Hot Rize reunion: http://youtu.be/UXpKMuBCu8o

    Punch Brothers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQPbCbKKVxU

  6. Leeann Ward
    March 16, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    I love the Steve Earle track.

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