Well, maybe not quite.
Listening to the Dropkick Murphys, I’m swept into their Irish-Catholic South Boston neighborhood. The sense of place in their rough-and-tumble songs is simply that strong—and not just on account of the accent coming through in the vocals.
The Murphys are a curious blend of genres: they’re described as both hardcore punk and Celtic folk, and you can definitely hear both in their music. I’d add unapologetically, jubilantly brash. And raucous. Irreverent. Throbbing with life, vitality, emotion, even a little death. Not above making fun of themselves.
And prolific. This year’s 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory, peaking at number eight on the U.S. Billboard charts, follows a dozen releases by the Murphys since 1998. You may know their cover of “Tessie” as a Boston Red Sox anthem (from The Warrior's Code), or “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” from the Departed soundtrack, but there are many other memorable tunes to choose from.
“Kiss Me I’m #!@’faced” (Blackout), for example, is perhaps the ultimate song for debating whether or not to go out on St. Paddy’s Day; later in the year, “The Season’s Upon Us” (Signed and Sealed in Blood) might make a black-humored Christmas playlist. “Worker’s Song” (Blackout) is an indignant rallying cry for an uncertain economy, and there’s a rousing fierceness in the Murphys’ rendition of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (11 Short Stories).
There’s even unexpected poignancy at times, exemplified by lyrics like those in “Walk Away” (Blackout):
The ones you loved
The ones you left behind
The ones that you’re trying to find
Are they trying to find you…?
Many of us claim no Irish origins, but that doesn’t stop us from enjoying the songs, stories, and culture the Irish brought to America’s melting pot (of gold?). This Saint Patrick’s Day, put on the Dropkick Murphys, along with other high-energy rock bands—the Pogues, Rancid, Stiff Little Fingers, Flogging Molly—with roots in Ireland.