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Danny Boy

Happy St. Patrick's Day from the Muppets (via Sean):

I can't stop laughing once Beaker chimes in. It's perfect.

Danny BoyAs you might imagine, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Danny Boy, since it's effectively been my family nickname my entire life. The story goes that my Uncle John came waltzing in the room singing it at one point when my mom was pregnant with me, and it stuck.

It is a lovely little ditty, though, if it's done right. Most versions of it I run across are a little over-the-top Oirish-y or — even worse — a little too vocally precise but lacking in heart. (Shane McGowan gets it right, if you ask me: a little sad, a little sweet, a little boozy, and a little rough around the edges.)

My favorite version is actually by Harry Belafonte:

Danny Boy — Harry Belafonte

I never really appreciated the song very much until one of the times I saw Joe Jackson in concert in concert. He sometimes does this brilliant bar-by-bar analysis of Danny Boy (well, I guess technically it's an analysis of The Londonderry Air, which is the original melody that was grabbed for Danny Boy in 1913), detailing exactly why it's the perfect example of a Irish ballad that can "bring tears to a glass eye", as an intro to the Faustian story in a song of his own:

The Man Who Wrote Danny Boy — Joe Jackson

Rufus Wainwright and House of Pain do songs called Danny Boy, but neither one is quite the same.

Comments (2)

1) paul h: happy st. pat's! hope all's well in the British Isles! i'm bummed i'm missing it. (Mar 18, 2008 1:24 AM)

2) peter: Don't forget Tom Jones' version. (Mar 19, 2008 5:36 PM)

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