Tuesday, July 24, 2007

How to Annoy an Irish Folksinger

So there I am at Frank O'Dowd's Irish Pub, listening to Paul McHugh play. The food, drink and crowd are all good. There's a warm atmosphere of conviviality. McHugh is up there on the stage, playing traditional Irish music along with various folksongs and even some American country, all on his acoustic guitar. The general vibe is upbeat and playful. A few dirty ditties and drinking songs are mixed in there.

Then, some jackass requests "Danny Boy".

If you're going to go to a place called "Frank O'Dowd's Irish Pub" inside of a hotel called "the Irish Cottage" and listen to an Irish musician, it might be a good idea to not request "Danny Boy".

I like the song well enough, when I hear it performed by someone who performs it well. The grand majority of the world, however, doesn't perform it well. You need to sing a pretty broad range of notes and most people's voices simply aren't up for it. I've been told that my grandfather used to sing it beautifully, but I have no memory of ever hearing him sing it. The grand majority of times that I have heard it live, it's been because some jackass requested it because, hey, the guy singing has an Irish accent!

This is akin to going to a random rock concert and screaming out, "Free Bird!" It's obnoxious and marks you as a clueless idiot, generally.

But, the group who requested "Danny Boy" managed to outdo themselves. I didn't think it was possible, but they managed to make an even stupider request. They requested "Sunday Bloody Sunday."

In case you weren't paying attention, go back to the first paragraph. McHugh is by himself on stage with an acoustic guitar. I mean, seriously, the hell? These people didn't appear to be drunk, either. I can only assume that they were trying to think of every song they knew of that had been written by an Irishman and, pathetically, those were the only two that they could think of. Also, to make matters worse, "Danny Boy" was actually written by an Englishman.

So let this be a lesson to you. Should you ever go to an pub and listen to an Irish guy with his guitar, do not request "Danny Boy" unless you know for a fact that this guy does a killer version of it. And for God's sake, don't request "Sunday Bloody Sunday" from anyone who isn't wearing sunglasses and rambling about the poor starving children.

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