Musical Geographies: Ireland

Ireland is famous for many things: its incredibly green landscapes, its turbulent history, its alcohol consumption. But above all that, Ireland is famous for musicians making music about its green landscapes, turbulent history, and alcohol consumption.

“The Boys from the County Hell” – the Pogues

It was a tossup between this and “Streams of Whiskey.” “Boys” won for the excellent tin whistle and the dancing of the crowd. All these years later, the combination of very traditional-sounding music and song lyrics about junkies and whores still seems revolutionary.

“Sunday Bloody Sunday” – U2

Forget about whatever kind of parody of himself Bono has become in the years since. This song, while “not a rebel song,” is still a rallying cry, the horrified reaction of young people to their people’s history of violence.

“Green and Red of Mayo” – the Saw Doctors

It’s not all anger and drunkenness. The Irish also love a good dose of nostalgia. Here’s something more peaceful and pastoral.

“People Get Ready” – the Frames

This is a beautiful song, but more than the music, I like the stage patter beforehand. Rather nicely illustrates the Irish gift of gab.

“Zombie” – the Cranberries

Last but not least. Everybody wail along. You know you want to.