By Dominick Matarese |
I do not have a drop of Irish blood in me (as far as I know), yet there is one tradition between my Dad and I that I hold near and dear to my heart; listening to Irish Folk Music. It all started shortly after I was born, when my Dad’s friend (who goes by Shecky) gave him a CD titled “Tomba Matarese’s Irish Music as Compiled By Shecky.” It was a collection of various Irish folk songs which Shecky had ripped straight from the early days of the internet. I have been skiing with my dad since I was three years old, and from those early days of going to Greek Peak with him and hanging out at the car during our breaks, we would listen to that CD. So now those songs are burned into my memory, and we faithfully sing along to them every year when St. Patrick’s day rolls around.
A couple years back for my Dad’s birthday, I had the idea to make a second volume of “Irish Music” for him. In the same style, I ripped various Irish Folk songs from YouTube, and loaded them onto a CD, complete with the homemade cover art and tracklist. Assembling a second volume of Irish music made me fall in love with the genre even more. I scoured dozens of songs for the ones that fit just right, and on his birthday I presented it to him. Long story short, he loved it, and now we have two volumes of “Irish Music” to sing along to on our way to Greek Peak.
The point of this story is to illustrate the magic of Irish folk music. I’m not sure that folk songs from any other country would have inspired my Italian Father and I to sing them at the top of our lungs like we do with the Irish variety. The qualities that make Irish music great are the same qualities that make Ireland great; a long and difficult history, strong patriotism, and most of all; a love of alcohol. The themes of Irish folk music tell wonderful and often humorous stories that range from a man who becomes unconscious after falling from a ladder, and is revived when a fight breaks out and whiskey pours over his body, to the emotional tale of a freedom fighters predicament when faced with a captured enemy soldier at his mercy. “Get Out Ye Black and Tans” will have you loudly and proudly singing “Come out ye black and tans! Come out and fight me like a man!” whether you are Irish or not, and “Mountain Dew” will have it’s chorus of “Hi di-diddly-idle-um, diddly-doodle-idle-um, diddly-doo-ri-diddlum-deh” stuck in your head all day.
There’s something in Irish folk music for everyone, tales of love, tales of the sea, tales of betrayal, and most of all; tales of copious amounts of booze. Most of them are so easy and fun to sing along to you will be instantly hooked. So this Saint Patrick’s day, give Irish Music a chance! If your only exposure to Irish music has been half listening to Flogging Mollys or Dropkick Murphys at some bar once a year, look deeper. Listen to the classics like the Irish Rovers, The Clancy Brothers, the Dubliners, or the Wolfetones. Most of the classic songs get covered by every Irish band worth their salt, but there’s plenty of newer tracks that hold their own too. If you want to explore the wild world of Irish Folk music your own, just put “Irish Drinking Songs” or “Irish Folk Music” into YouTube or Spotify and shop around, or if you want to listen to my personal favorites from the original “Irish Music” mixtapes, you can check out my Spotify playlist here: Irish Music
Have a happy and safe Saint Patrick’s day everyone!