First the caveat I always give this time of year: I am not Irish. But Irish culture, Irish history — and especially Irish music and beverages — intrigue me.
And so, on this day of all days, I am Irish rather than the mix of English, Dutch and whatever else flows through my arteries.
It's altogether fitting that on St. Patrick's Day we take a few minutes to ponder a song that combines two of my two favorite aspects of Irish culture — drinking whiskey and singing about drinking whiskey.
I've come to love the music of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem (the one on the right who doesn't look like he's a brother). It's their harmonies, it's their humor and most of all it's their story telling.
Their music is best taken in from a live album. (They're all dead, so you can't see them live.) That's because they don't just finish a song and light into the next one, but they take time to tell stories, giving little insights about the songs and the culture behind them.
And they were fair in how they did it. The Clancys and Makem were all Catholic but didn't use their platform to talk about how awful the Protestants were. In fact, on "A Spontaneous Concert Performance," Makem introduces the song "The Old Orange Flute," by explaining that the Orangemen (Protestants) "are the bad fellas and we are the good fellas" in the north of Ireland. But, "to prove we're not prejudiced," they sing an Orange song anyway.
The Clancys were really the driving force behind bringing these traditional Irish songs to an American audience, as well as reintroducing them in Ireland. And with how great they were at telling the stories, they really served as cultural ambassadors.
The song I've chosen today is "The Jug of Punch" from a 1980s television performance when the classic lineup of Liam, Paddy and Tom Clancy as well as Tommy Makem had reunited for the first time since the late 1960s. All the usual humor and storytelling is there, so I love it.
It's also what I chose today because it's too stinkin' cold out there. Just like the old man of the song, I'd rather be curled up at home with some Irish punch to keep my company.