|Whiskey in the Jar|
|Composed||circa 17th century|
|"Whiskey in the Jar"|
|Single by The Dubliners|
"Whiskey in the Jar" is an Irish traditional song set in the southern mountains of Ireland, often with specific mention of counties Cork and Kerry. The song, about a rapparee (highwayman) who is betrayed by his wife or lover, is one of the most widely performed traditional Irish songs and has been recorded by numerous artists since the 1950s.
County Cork is a county in Ireland. It is the largest and southernmost county of Ireland, situated in the province of Munster and named after the city of Cork, Ireland's second-largest city. The Cork County Council is the local authority for the county. Its largest market towns are Mallow, Macroom, Midleton, and Skibbereen. In 2016, the county's population was 542,868, making it the third-most populous county in Ireland. Notable Corkonians include Michael Collins, Jack Lynch, and Sonia O'Sullivan.
County Kerry is a county in Ireland. It is located in the South-West Region and forms part of the province of Munster. It is named after the Ciarraige who lived in part of the present county. The population of the county was 147,707 at the 2016 census.
Rapparees or raparees were Irish guerrilla fighters who operated on the Jacobite side during the 1690s Williamite war in Ireland. Subsequently, the name was also given to bandits and highwaymen in Ireland – many former guerrillas having turned to crime after the war ended. They share similarities with the hajduks of Eastern Europe.
The song first gained wide exposure when the Irish folk band The Dubliners performed it internationally as a signature song, and recorded it on three albums in the 1960s. In the U.S., the song was popularized by The Highwaymen, who recorded it on their 1962 album Encore.The Irish rock band Thin Lizzy hit the Irish and British pop charts with the song in 1973. In 1990, The Dubliners re-recorded the song with The Pogues with a faster rocky version charting at No.4 in Ireland and No.63 in the UK. The American metal band Metallica in 1998 played a version very similar to that of Thin Lizzy's, though with a heavier sound, winning a Grammy for the song in 2000 for Best Hard Rock Performance. In 2019, Canadian singer-songwriter Bryan Adams performed a cover of the song on his album Shine a Light .
The Dubliners were an Irish folk band founded in Dublin in 1962 as The Ronnie Drew Ballad Group after its founding member; they subsequently renamed themselves The Dubliners. The line-up saw many changes over their fifty-year career, but the group's success was centred on lead singers Luke Kelly and Ronnie Drew. The band garnered international success with their lively Irish folk songs, traditional street ballads and instrumentals. The band were regulars on the folk scenes in both Dublin and London in the early 1960s, and were signed to the Major Minor label in 1965 after backing from Dominic Behan who was paid by Major-Minor to work with the Dubliners and help them to build a better act fit for larger concert hall venues. The Dubliners worked with Behan regularly between 1965 and 1966; Behan wrote numerous songs for this act including the song McAlpine's Fusiliers created specifically to showcase Ronnie Drew's gravel voice. They went on to receive extensive airplay on Radio Caroline which was part owned by Phil Solomon CEO of Major Minor, and eventually appeared on Top of the Pops in 1967 with hits "Seven Drunken Nights" and "The Black Velvet Band". Often performing political songs considered controversial at the time, they drew criticism from some folk purists and Ireland's national broadcaster RTÉ had placed an unofficial ban on their music from 1967 to 1971. During this time the band's popularity began to spread across mainland Europe and they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in the United States. The group's success remained steady right through the 1970s and a number of collaborations with The Pogues in 1987 saw them enter the UK Singles Chart on another two occasions.
The Highwaymen were a 1960s "collegiate folk" group. They originated at Wesleyan University and had a Billboard #1 hit in 1961 with "Michael Row the Boat Ashore", a version of the African-American work song, and another Top 20 hit in 1962 with "Cotton Fields". "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold record.
Thin Lizzy are a hard rock band formed in Dublin, Ireland, in 1969. Two of the founding members, drummer Brian Downey and bass guitarist and lead vocalist Phil Lynott, met while still in school. Lynott led the group throughout their recording career of twelve studio albums, writing most of the material. The singles "Whiskey in the Jar", "Jailbreak", and "The Boys Are Back in Town" were major international hits. After Lynott's death in 1986, various incarnations of the band emerged over the years based initially around guitarists Scott Gorham and John Sykes, though Sykes left the band in 2009. Gorham later continued with a new line-up including Downey.
"Whiskey in the Jar" is the tale of a highwayman or footpad who, after robbing a military or government official, is betrayed by a woman; whether she is his wife or sweetheart is not made clear. Various versions of the song take place in Kerry, Kilmoganny, Cork, Sligo Town, and other locales throughout Ireland. It is also sometimes placed in the American South, in various places among the Ozarks or Appalachians, possibly due to Irish settlement in these places. Names in the song change, and the official can be a Captain or a Colonel, called Farrell or Pepper among other names. The protagonist's wife or lover is sometimes called Molly, Jenny, Emzy, or Ginny among various other names. The details of the betrayal are also different, being either betraying him to the person he robbed and replacing his ammunition with sand or water, or not, resulting in his killing the person.
In archaic terminology, a footpad is a robber or thief specialising in pedestrian victims. The term was used widely from the 16th century until the 19th century, but gradually fell out of common use. A footpad was considered a low criminal, as opposed to the mounted highwayman who in certain cases might gain fame as well as notoriety. Footpads operated during the Elizabethan era and until the beginning of the 19th century.
Kilmoganny is a small village in the County Kilkenny in the south-east of Ireland. Saint Mogeanna was an Irish virgin whose feast day in the Irish Calendar of Saints is 29 January.
Cork is a city in south-west Ireland, in the province of Munster. As of the 2016 census, the city had a population of 125,657, but following a boundary extension in 2019, the population increased to c. 210,000. It is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland.
The song's exact origins are unknown. A number of its lines and the general plot resemble those of a contemporary broadside ballad "Patrick Fleming" (also called "Patrick Flemmen he was a Valiant Soldier") about Irish highwayman Patrick Fleming, who was executed in 1650.
Patrick Fleming was an Irish highwayman and the subject of poems and songs in Ireland. He was executed on April 24, 1650.
In the book The Folk Songs of North America, folk music historian Alan Lomax suggests that the song originated in the 17th century, and (based on plot similarities) that John Gay's 1728 The Beggar's Opera was inspired by Gay hearing an Irish ballad-monger singing "Whiskey in the Jar". In regard to the history of the song, Lomax states, "The folk of seventeenth century Britain liked and admired their local highwaymen; and in Ireland (or Scotland) where the gentlemen of the roads robbed English landlords, they were regarded as national patriots. Such feelings inspired this rollicking ballad."
Alan Lomax was an American ethnomusicologist, best known for his numerous field recordings of folk music of the 20th century. He was also a musician himself, as well as a folklorist, archivist, writer, scholar, political activist, oral historian, and film-maker. Lomax produced recordings, concerts, and radio shows in the US and in England, which played an important role in preserving folk music traditions in both countries, and helped start both the American and British folk revivals of the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s. He collected material first with his father, folklorist and collector John A. Lomax, and later alone and with others, Lomax recorded thousands of songs and interviews for the Archive of American Folk Song, of which he was the director, at the Library of Congress on aluminum and acetate discs.
John Gay was an English poet and dramatist and member of the Scriblerus Club. He is best remembered for The Beggar's Opera (1728), a ballad opera. The characters, including Captain Macheath and Polly Peachum, became household names.
The Beggar's Opera is a ballad opera in three acts written in 1728 by John Gay with music arranged by Johann Christoph Pepusch. It is one of the watershed plays in Augustan drama and is the only example of the once thriving genre of satirical ballad opera to remain popular today. Ballad operas were satiric musical plays that used some of the conventions of opera, but without recitative. The lyrics of the airs in the piece are set to popular broadsheet ballads, opera arias, church hymns and folk tunes of the time.
At some point, the song came to the United States and was a favourite in Colonial America because of its irreverent attitude toward British officials. The American versions are sometimes set in America and deal with American characters. One such version, from Massachusetts, is about Alan McCollister, an Irish-American soldier who is sentenced to death by hanging for robbing British officials.
Massachusetts, officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the south, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north, and New York to the west. The state is named after the Massachusett tribe, which once inhabited the east side of the area, and is one of the original thirteen states. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, which is also the most populous city in New England. Over 80% of Massachusetts' population lives in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, a region influential upon American history, academia, and industry. Originally dependent on agriculture, fishing and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Modern Massachusetts is a global leader in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade.
The song appeared in a form close to its modern version in a precursor called "The Sporting Hero, or, Whiskey in the Bar" in a mid-1850s broadsheet.
The song collector Colm Ó Lochlainn, in his book Irish Street Ballads,described how his mother learnt "Whiskey in the Jar" in Limerick in 1870 from a man called Buckley who came from Cork. When Ó Lochlainn included the song in Irish Street Ballads, he wrote down the lyrics from memory as he had learnt them from his mother. He called the song "There's Whiskey in the Jar", and the lyrics are virtually identical to the version that was used by Irish bands in the 1960s such as the Dubliners. The O Lochlainn version refers to the "far fam'd Kerry mountain" rather than the Cork and Kerry mountains, as appears in some versions.
The song also appears under the title "There's Whiskey in the Jar" in the Joycecollection, but that only includes the melody line without any lyrics. Versions of the song were collected in the 1920s in Northern Ireland by song collector Sam Henry.
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||63|
|"Whiskey in the Jar"|
|Single by Thin Lizzy|
|B-side||"Black Boys on the Corner"|
|Released||3 November 1972|
|Songwriter(s)||Trad. arr. Eric Bell, Brian Downey, Phil Lynott|
|Thin Lizzy singles chronology|
|"Whiskey in the Jar"|
|Song by Grateful Dead|
|from the album So Many Roads (1965–1995)|
|Songwriter(s)||Trad. arr. Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter|
|"Whiskey in the Jar"|
|Single by Metallica|
|from the album Garage Inc.|
|Released||1 February 1999|
|Songwriter(s)||Trad. arr. Eric Bell, Brian Downey, Phil Lynott|
|Metallica singles chronology|
"Whiskey in the Jar" is sung with many variants on locations and names, including the Grateful Dead version, a version by The Dubliners (which is often sung in Irish traditional music sessions around the world), a rock version sung by Thin Lizzy and a heavy metal version sung by Metallica.
There is also a song about Irish troops in the American Civil War called "We'll Fight for Uncle Sam", which is sung in the same tune of "Whiskey in the Jar".
A partial discography:
The song has also been recorded by singers and folk groups such as Roger Whittaker, The Irish Rovers, Seven Nations, Off Kilter, King Creosote, Brobdingnagian Bards, Charlie Zahm, and Christy Moore.
Contrary to common belief, The Clancy Brothers never recorded the song. The confusion stems from the album Irish Drinking Songs, which is composed of separate tracks by The Dubliners and The Clancy Brothers, with the former performing "Whiskey in the Jar"; the same compilation includes the Clancy Brothers singing "Whiskey, You're The Devil", in which the line "There's whiskey in the jar" occurs several times. Liam Clancy did record it with his son and nephew on Clancy, O'Connell & Clancy in 1997, and Tommy Makem recorded it on The Song Tradition in 1998. The High Kings, featuring Bobby Clancy's son Finbarr, released a version in February 2011.
Thin Lizzy's 1972 single (bonus track on Vagabonds of the Western World [1991 edition]) stayed at the top of the Irish charts for 17 weeks, and the British release stayed in the top 30 for 12 weeks, peaking at No. 6, in 1973.This version has since been covered by U2, Pulp (first released on a 1996 various artist compilation album Childline and later on deluxe edition of Different Class in 2006), Smokie, Metallica ( Garage Inc. 1998, which won a Grammy), Belle and Sebastian ( The Blues Are Still Blue EP 2006), Gary Moore (2006), Nicky Moore (Top Musicians Play Thin Lizzy 2008), Simple Minds (Searching for the Lost Boys 2009), and Israeli musician Izhar Ashdot. The song is also on the Grateful Dead live compilation So Many Roads disc five.
On the bluegrass scene, Jerry Garcia and David Grisman recorded a version for the album Shady Grove . It has also been performed by the Scarecrows bluegrass band and the Dutch band Blue Grass Boogiemen.
Icelandic folk band Þrjú á palli recorded it in 1971 as "Lífið Er Lotterí" with lyrics by Jónas Árnason. Lillebjørn Nilsen adapted it to Norwegian, as "Svikefulle Mari", on his 1971 album Tilbake.Finnish band Eläkeläiset recorded a humppa version as the title track of their 1997 album Humppamaratooni. In 2007 the Lars Lilholt Band made a Danish version, "Gi' Mig Whiskey in the Jar", for the album Smukkere Med Tiden. Estonian band Poisikõsõ recorded "Hans'a Õuhkaga" on the album Tii Päält Iist in 2007.
In 1966, the Yarkon Bridge Trio, an Israeli singing group, recorded a song named "Siman Sheata Tsair" ("It Is a Sign That You Are Young") set to the melody of "Whiskey in the Jar";the song became a hit and was later covered by various artists, notably by Gidi Gov.
Eric Robin Bell is a Northern Irish rock and blues musician, best known as a founder member and the original guitarist of the rock group Thin Lizzy. After his time in Thin Lizzy, he briefly fronted his own group before joining The Noel Redding Band in the mid-1970s. He has since released several solo albums and performs regularly with a blues-based trio, the Eric Bell Band.
Vagabonds of the Western World is the third studio album by Irish hard rock band Thin Lizzy, released in 1973. It was the band's last album with original guitarist Eric Bell and the first to feature the artwork of Jim Fitzpatrick, whose work would appear on many subsequent albums by the band.
"Follow Me Up to Carlow" is an Irish folk song celebrating the defeat of an army of 3,000 English soldiers by Fiach Mac Aodh Ó Broin at the Battle of Glenmalure, during the Second Desmond Rebellion in 1580.
"The Wild Colonial Boy" is a traditional anonymous Irish-Australian ballad of which there are many different versions, the most prominent being the Irish and Australian versions. The original was about Jack Donahue, an Irish rebel who became a convict, then a bushranger, and was eventually shot dead by police. This version was outlawed as seditious, so the name in the song was changed to Jack Doolan. The Irish version is about a Jack Duggan, young emigrant who left the town of Castlemaine, County Kerry, Ireland, for Australia in the early 19th century. According to the song, he spent his time "robbing from the rich to feed the poor". In the song, Duggan is fatally wounded in an ambush when he is shot in the heart by Fitzroy.
"Mrs. McGrath" is an Irish folk song set during the Peninsular War of the early 19th century. The song tells the story of a woman whose son enters the British Army and returns seven years later having lost his legs to a cannonball while fighting against Napoleon presumably at the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro. The general theme of the song is one of opposition to war. Along with "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye", it is one of the most graphic of all Irish folk songs that deal with sickness and injuries caused by warfare. Irish folk song collector Colm Ó Lochlainn described "Mrs. Grath" as "known to every true born citizen of Dublin". It was very popular among the Irish Volunteers in the years leading up to the 1916 Rising and has been recorded by many singers and folk groups.
"(The) Leaving of Liverpool",, also known as "Fare Thee Well, My Own True Love", is a folksong. Folklorists classify it as a lyric lament, and it was also used as a sea shanty, especially at the capstan. It is very well known in Britain, Ireland, and America, despite the fact that it was collected only twice, from the Americans Richard Maitland and Captain Patrick Tayluer. It was collected from both singers by William Main Doerflinger, an American folksong collector particularly associated with sea songs, in New York.
"The Irish Rover" is an Irish folk song about a magnificent though improbable sailing ship that reaches an unfortunate end. It has been recorded by numerous artists, some of whom have made changes to the lyrics over time.
"I'll Tell Me Ma" is a well-known children's song. It was collected in various parts of England in the 19th century and again appears in collections from shortly after the turn of the 20th century. In Ireland the chorus usually refers to Belfast city and is known colloquially as "The Belle of Belfast City", although it is also adapted to other Irish cities, such as Dublin. English versions refer to the "Golden City" or "London City". This song is Roud Folk Song Index number 2649.
"Jack's Heroes" was a single released by The Pogues & The Dubliners in 1990, composed by tin whistle player Spider Stacy about the Republic of Ireland football squad, then managed by Jack Charlton. The song is to the tune of "The Wild Colonial Boy", a traditional Irish-Australian ballad. The video featured the two bands playing against each other in a football match. The single charted in Ireland at Number 4 and in the UK Top 100 at Number 63.
"The Rare Old Mountain Dew" is an Irish folk song dating from 1882.
"Molly's Chambers" is the second single taken from Youth and Young Manhood, the debut album by the American alternative rock band Kings of Leon.
"Sarah" is a pop song released in 1979 by Irish rock group Thin Lizzy, included on their album, Black Rose: A Rock Legend. The song was written by the band's frontman Phil Lynott and guitarist Gary Moore about Lynott's newborn daughter. The song was also issued as a single, and appeared on several compilation albums including Wild One: The Very Best of Thin Lizzy. The song was never performed live by Thin Lizzy, but it was adopted as a live favourite by Lynott's post-Thin Lizzy project, Grand Slam, and featured on Live in Sweden 1983, a recording of Lynott's solo band.
"Highwayman" is a song written by American singer-songwriter Jimmy Webb, about a soul with incarnations in four different places in time and history: as a highwayman, a sailor, a construction worker on the Hoover Dam, and finally as a captain of a starship. The song was influenced by the real-life hanged highwayman Jonathan Wild. The dam builder verse alludes to the deaths of over one hundred men during the construction of Hoover Dam near Boulder City, Nevada. Webb first recorded the song on his album El Mirage, released in May 1977. The following year, Glen Campbell recorded his version, which was released on his 1979 album Highwayman. In 1985, the song became the inspiration for the naming of the supergroup the Highwaymen, which featured Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson. Their first album, Highwayman, became a number one platinum-selling album, and their version of the song went to number one on the Hot Country Songs Billboard chart in a 20 week run. Their version earned Webb a Grammy Award for Best Country Song in 1986. The song has since been recorded by other artists. Webb himself included a different version on his 1996 album Ten Easy Pieces, a live version on his 2007 album Live and at Large, and a duet version with Mark Knopfler on the 2010 album Just Across the River.
Alive Alive-O is a double album by the Irish Folk Group The Dubliners which was recorded live throughout several Evenings in December 1996 in Germany at the end of their European tour. After the departure of Ronnie Drew, The Dubliners were joined by the famous Irish singer Paddy Reilly who lends his voice to several ballads on the album. John Sheahan's daughter Ceoladh guests with her father, duetting on fiddle with him on his composition, "Among Friends". The album is notable for some mixed German-English song introductions by Sean Cannon, causing widespread laughter among the audience.
The following is a discography of Thin Lizzy, an Irish hard rock band formed in Dublin in 1969. Originally led by frontman, bass guitarist, songwriter and singer Phil Lynott, their most commercially successful songs are "The Boys Are Back in Town", "Whiskey in the Jar" and "Jailbreak", all major international hits still played regularly on hard rock and classic rock radio stations.
William "Willy" Brennan was an Irish Highwayman caught and hanged in Cork in either 1804 or perhaps 1809 or 1812, whose story was immortalised in the ballad "Brennan on the Moor".
The Best of the Original Dubliners is an album by Irish band The Dubliners which charted at No. 69 in Ireland on 17 March 2005. This three CD compilation contains Irish folk songs recorded by Ronnie Drew, Luke Kelly, Barney McKenna, Ciarán Bourke, and John Sheahan between 1967 and 1972. It includes the Dubliner's number one hit, "Seven Drunken Nights", as well as many of their best known songs.
"Limerick Rake" is a traditional Irish song written who's composer is disputed. The lyrics are set to the tune of an earlier song titled "Agús fagaimid siúd mar atá sé".
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