Saint Patrick’s Day is the high holy day for those of us of Irish descent. It’s a day (or a month for some of us) where we proudly wear our heritage on our sleeve…and on our livers. To me, there are seven essential pieces of pop culture that you need in your life on March 17th in order to fully get in the spirit of Irish Christmas. So pour yourself a pint, put on some green and prepare to get your Irish up with these seven essentials…
1. House of Pain’s “Jump Around”
The ultimate pub anthem. From the first screech (used 66 times supposedly) to the final record scratches, this song is a pint and pulse raiser. Whether it’s at a bar, sporting event, wedding, or in your car or living room — this song gets you hyped. And it’s one of the few rap songs that probably every single human being knows. The song created by the New York trio of Irish hip hop hoodlums Everlast, Danny Boy and DJ Lethal, “Jump Around” first hit airwaves in 1992 and reached as high as #3 on the Billboard charts. For Saint Patrick’s Day, this is a song that should be on repeat on all damn day because even though it’s been played billions of times in your lifetime, it never gets old…especially when you’ve had a few. It’s a great party starter, party-ender and the type of track that’ll change the game anywhere you’re at.
2. The Quiet Man: Released in 1952, The Quiet Man is about a retired American boxer (John Wayne) returns to the village where he was born in Ireland, where he finds love (in form of Maureen O’Hara). The movie does get criticism from native Irish as being an overly cheerful Americanization of Irish life. Well, of course it is. It’s a movie and an upbeat one at that — real life isn’t this happy. So, leave all your cinematic prejudices at the door. John Wayne plays, disgraced Irish-American boxer Sean Thornton, who has retired from the ring after accidentally killing his opponent. This the heaviest part of the movie for as soon as Wayne hits the Emerald Isle, the film becomes a rollicking punch-in-the-face, raise-a-pint and woo-your-bonny-lass film created by the king of the Western, John Ford. This film was my inspiration for my love of tweed Irish hats (which are oh-so trendy these days). Seriously, watch this movie and you’ll be dying for a slice of soda bread.
3. The Requisite Attire, The Requisite Drink: Wearing the right garb and the right drink in your belly is a must on Saint Patrick’s Day. Now, if you must wear a cable-knit sweater, well God bless you. That thing is just waiting to become a landing spot for all your food and drink throughout the day. I suggest something a little less…bulky and dad-like. A well placed green t-shirt always does the trick but make it isn’t like “Old Navy St. Patrick’s Day 2014” that’s kinda lame. Guinness t-shirts, pub shirts, shamrocks, rugby long-sleeves or if you wanna get fancy, a white shirt with a green tie (skinny tie of course) make for a perfect St. Patty’s ensemble. Jeans for pants of course. Gents, if you’re going out make sure your head is rocking a flat cap. Known in some circles as a scally cap, this is legit Irish and ups your McStreet Cred. These are all the rage these days, so make sure you’ve got yourself a nice tweed one.
When it comes to what you’ll be dining on, try to get a little bit of corned beef in there. Make sure it’s coming from a legit eatery. Don’t drop into your local sports bar or corner dive for a sammie, make sure that you’re getting it from a place that is of legit Irish descent or influence. Battle the crowds of your local pub and order up that beautiful piece of corned beef on some soft rye, cover it with Swiss cheese and a liberal dose of brown mustard…perfection.
As for drink. Well, forget the whole light beer thing on Saint Patrick’s Day, this is a true day of drinking. A pint of the black (Guinness) is the drink of choice for sure. And make sure you get a proper poured pint…walk into any bar and you can see a sticker certifying the venues’ “Perfect Pour” certification. If you don’t see it, buyer beware. If Guinness isn’t your thing (it isn’t for me), order a pint of the most wonderful beer ever created, Harp Lager. Oh sweet Saint Patrick this is truly a God sent brew. It’s utterly delicious in every sense of the word. Of course if neither floats your boat the following are acceptable alternatives: Smithwicks, Killian’s Irish Red, Murphy’s, Beamish Stout, O’Hara’s, Kilkenny, Magner’s…actually any beer will really do, just make sure it’s not a light. And if you’re going hard, there’s tons of Irish whiskeys out there, but hot damn you better be drinking some liquid gold, Jameson, on this day of days. It’s simply the best.
And seriously, have a designated driver.
4. U2 – The Early Days
Nothing can rouse your soul or make your Irish roots tremble with nationalistic fervor more than early day U2. Now, I embrace all of U2’s catalog, but if you really want to get sentimental and sing at the top of your lungs with a tear in your eye at any point of the day or you just want a song to really grab your soul — then any U2 album up until 1988’s Rattle and Hum will do. Now, piece of advice, you should listen to the band’s 1991 masterpiece Achtung Baby as well, but that could be any day of the week and not just the 17th of March…but I digress. Hits like “I Will Follow,” “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “New Year’s Day,” “Pride (In the Name of Love),” Where the Streets Have No Name,” “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” “With or Without You,” or “Desire” will definitely do the trick to get your Irish emotions roused. Bono’s soaring vocals combined with the patented sound of The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen are just heavenly perfection.
5. The Departed: It’s ironic that two extremely Italian artists- Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese, created not one, but two great films about the Irish (Gangs of New York being the other, but still the lesser of the two). This film, based on the Asian crime dramas The Infernal Affairs, revolves around two South Bostonians (DiCaprio and Damon) who are working as moles for the State Police and the Irish mob respectively. Brilliant camera work, dynamite acting and enough classic rock and Dropkick Murphy’s music to make Guinness course through your veins, make this not only a classic Irish film, but a highly re-watchable Scorsese flick.
6. Celtic Punk: First a definition (thanks Wikipedia!) The typical Celtic punk band includes a rock instrumentation as well as traditional instruments such as bagpipes, fiddle, tin whistle, accordion, mandolin, and banjo. Like Celtic rock, Celtic punk is a form of Celtic fusion. The term Celtic punk is usually used to describe bands who base their music in Irish or Scottish traditional music. It is considered part of the broader folk punk genre, but that term tends to be used for bands that use English, American and other forms of folk music as inspiration.
If House of Pain gets you started and if U2 rouses the spirit, then Celtic punk bands will fueled your entire day of drinking. These songs will undoubtedly have you putting your arm around a complete stranger, sway from side-to-side and sing at the top of your lungs. Bands like: The Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, The Tossers, The Pogues and some of our local favorites like The Mighty Regis and The Fighting Jamesons provide some of the most rollicking, tough and fun pub punk songs out there. Their infusion of traditional Irish folk music with the balls out attitude of punk rock make for glorious, glorious drinking music.
7. Boondock Saints: Okay, this isn’t Citizen Kane, but what Boondock Saints is, is a blood and guts, run and gun, smart alecky, over-the-top action thriller that has captivated the hearts and minds of college students across the US. Laced with bucket of bullets and blood, Roman Catholic quotations and in-your-face swagger to it, it’s hard not to love it.