The Songs No iPod Should Be Without


So, St. Paddy’s Day is upon us.  This column will be published on March 7a mere 10 days prior to St. Patrick’s Day.  Because the next column won’t be published until March 21, I thought it might be appropriate to include some St. Patrick’s music and/or, at the very least, music by Irish bands in this column.  I’m not looking to make any political statements.  My only mission here is to list and pay homage to musical excellence. The songs included in this particular column are included because they’re fun, because they’re, in my humble opinion, required listening.  They NEED to be on your iPod.  Enjoy!  I hope they bring a smile to your face this St. Patrick’s Day!

155. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers
The song was featured prominently in the film Benny & Joon and was propelled to the top of the charts.  It’s here because it’s one of those songs that get into your head and just won’t leave.  If you don’t want that happening to you skip over these lyrics and go straight to song # 156:

When I wake up, well I know I’m gonna be

I’m gonna be the man who wakes up next to you

When I go out, yeah, I know I’m gonna be

I’m gonna be the man who goes along with you

If I get drunk, well, I know I’m gonna be

I’m gonna be the man who gets drunk next to you

And if I haver, hey, I know I’m gonna be

I’m gonna be the man who’s havering to you

But I would walk five hundred miles

And I would walk five hundred more

Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles

To fall down at your door

And believe it or not, it’s also a sweet love song.

Recommended versions can be found on:  Sunshine on Leith (Chrysalis, 1988) and The Best of The Proclaimers (Capitol/EMI Records, 2002).

156. Fairy Tale of New York – Kirsty MacColl and The Pogues
Yeah, I know it’s not really a St. Patrick’s Day song.  It’s actually a Christmas song, but what band is more Irish than the Pogues?  It’s here because it is s stunning sweet and sour Irish folk ballad sung in call and response fashion between Shane MacGowan and the late Kirsty MacColl.  I’d include the lyrics but it’s not a happy song.  It’s not a song for a family newspaper, and that’s part of the reason it’s so damn good.  Regardless of the topic and the less-than-PC lyrics, it is still an iconic St. Patrick’s Day offering.

Recommended versions can be found on: If I Should Fall From Grace From God (Island/Pogue Mahone, 1987) and the greatest hits CDs The Very Best of The Pogues (Shout! Factory, 2013) and 30:30 – The Essential Collection (Rhino, 2013).

157. Teenage Kicks – The Undertones
So why is it here?  It’s not a St. Patrick’s Day song.  It’s here because Feargal Sharkey and his Derry, Northern Ireland-bred band mates created perfect two-minute three-chord Modern Rock pop songs – and “Teenage Kicks” was the best of the bunch!  Because the band’s music melded driving rock ‘n’ roll, with 70s glam and 60s garage rock.   Because it’s about teenage lust…  but mostly because it’s a great song with great lyrics.  Check ’em out:

I wanna hold you, wanna hold you tight

Get teenage kicks right through the night

I’m gonna call her on the telephone

Invite her over cos I’m all alone

I need excitement and I need it bad

And it’s the best I’ve ever had

 I wanna hold you, wanna hold you tight

Get teenage kicks right through the night


Recommended versions can be found on:  The Undertones (Sire, 1979) reissued by Rykodisc, the band’s greatest hits compilation Teenage Kicks: The Best of the Undertones (Sanctuary, 1996) and a number of various artists compilations including: D.I.Y.: Teenage Kicks: UK Pop [1976-79] (Rhino, 1993) and No Thanks! The ’70s Punk Rebellion (Rhino, 2003)

158. The Boys Are Back In Town – Thin Lizzy
Because it was a huge 70s hard rock anthem. Some call it Celtic soul.  I just call it excellent. The song is so good that it can be heard as a rallying cry at all kinds of sporting events: Major League Baseball games, National Football League games, professional rugby and soccer matches and all sorts of college and high school games:

Guess who just got back today?

Those wild Eyed boys that’ve been away

Haven’t changed, Haven’t much to say

But man I still think them cats are crazy

They were askin’ if you were around

How you was where you could be found

Told ’em you were livin’ downtown

Driving all the old men crazy

The boys are back in town, the boys are back in town

The boys are back in town, the boys are back in town

The boys are back in town, the boys are back in town

The boys are back in town, the boys are back in town

Hell, even Rolling Stone (in 2004) included it in its Top 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time–even though it brought up the rear at #499.

Recommended versions can be found on:  Jailbreak (Mercury, 1976), the live albums Are You Ready? (Eagle Records, 2009), Live at The BBC (Mercury/Universal Music, 2011) and the greats hits compilations Wild One: The Very Best of Thin Lizzy (Polygram, 1996), The Definitive Collection (Mercury, 2006)

159. I Don’t Like Mondays – The Boomtown Rats
If not for “Do They Know Its Christmas,” Band Aid and Live Aid, this would be what Irish singer, songwriter, author, actor and political activist Bob Geldof is best known for.  The song was written following Brenda Ann Spencer’s 1979 shooting spree in San Diego.  When asked why she reportedly said, “I don’t like Mondays.”  Geldof later explained that:
“I was doing a radio interview in Atlanta with Fingers and there was a telex machine beside me. I read it as it came out. Not liking Mondays as a reason for doing somebody in is a bit strange. I was thinking about it on the way back to the hotel and I just said ‘Silicon chip inside her head had switched to overload’. I wrote that down.  And the journalists interviewing her said, ‘Tell me why?’ It was such a senseless act. It was the perfect senseless act and this was the perfect senseless reason for doing it. So perhaps I wrote the perfect senseless song to illustrate it. It wasn’t an attempt to exploit tragedy.”
Despite its dark origins, It’s a great song.  The lyrics are brilliant:

The silicon chip inside her head

Gets switched to overload

And nobody’s gonna go to school today

She’s gonna make them stay at home

And daddy doesn’t understand it

He always said she was good as gold

And he can see no reasons

‘Cos there are no reasons

What reason do you need to be show-ow-ow-ow-own?

Tell me why

I don’t like Mondays

Tell me why

I don’t like Mondays

Tell me why

I don’t like Mondays

I wanna shoo-oo-woo-woo-woo-oot the whole day down

Recommended versions can be found on:  The Fine Art of Surfacing (Columbia, 1979 and the best of collections, Greatest Hits (Columbia, 1987), Best of The Boomtown Rats (Eagle Records, 2004) and 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of the Boomtown Rats (Mercury, 2005)

160. The Wild Rover – The Dropkick Murphy‘s
Because it’s an Irish drinking song that features Shane MacGowan.   Because you can’t hear it without wanting to lift a pint and toast your friends. The song has also been recorded by The Clancy Brothers, Stiff Little Fingers and the Dubliners, but I like this version because it packs more of a wallop and has a punkier aesthetic.  Its sing-songy lyrics are beyond cool:

I’ve been a wild rover for many’s the year,

And I’ve spent all me money on whiskey and beer.

And now I’m returning with gold in great store,

And I never will play the wild rover no more 

And it’s no, nay, never! (clap-clap-clap-clap)

No, nay, never, no more!

Will I play the wild rover

No, never, no more.

I went into an alehouse I used to frequent,

And I told the landlady me money was spent.

I asked her for credit, she answered me, “Nay.

Such a custom like yours I could have any day”.

Recommended versions can be found on:  Sing Loud, Sing Proud (Hellcat Records, 2001).

And you thought this column was going to include “Danny Boy,” “My Wild Irish Rose and “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.”  Yes, those are great songs, but this ain’t that type of column.  The songs listed in this column rock out a tad more than those do. Hopefully you like the songs that make up this installment of The Songs No iPod Should Be Without.  Check ’em out; they really are fun!

So now what?  That’s right.  You guessed it.  It’s that time again…  tell me some of your favorite songs. What do you like and why? What are the songs you can’t live without? Send me an e-mail and tell me what music you love.  Tell me why the song moves you.  I’ll feature your song selection in a future column.  E-mail me at: [email protected]. Type Can’t Live Without as the subject. Til Next time!

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