Monday, 2 July 2012

10 songs that remind me of the Celtic Tiger.

Ah, the Celtic Tiger. Remember her? The Beatles once sang "She Came Through The Bathroom Window". So did the Celtic Tiger. It bundled its way unexpectedly through our collective (metaphorical) bathroom window, performed wild fellatio on us, Ireland, finished before we could wipe down our trousers, plundered our money cabinet and made her way back out the same window it had arrived in. And now here we are, dazed and confused, slumped up against a bath with our trousers down at our ankles, unable to move, hoping that she'll return. Or something like that. Anyway, nostalgia ahoy mateys for these are 10 songs that remind me of the Celtic Tiger.

In no particular order..

1. Crazy World - Aslan

This song was actually released in 1993 but it took on a whole new meaning during the Celtic Tiger era. It was symbolic of our new attitude, our broadening horizons, our blissful inexperience with affluence (It was a Crazy new world for us) and of course, our love of an acoustic guitar being strummed really fucking quickly. Listening to this song reminds me of sunny days out in Dingle with a deep-fried Mars bar in one hand and a copy of the Indo in the other. Reading about the soaring price of property in Dublin, probably.

2. Galway Girl - Mundy

This should probably be our national anthem. Not because I'm particularly enamoured by it (It's a great song but I've heard it too many times) but because it's the only song that EVERYONE in Ireland knows every last syllable to. If I asked you what came after Sinne Fianna Fáil in Ammhráin Na bhFiann, I bet half of you would struggle, but if I said what comes after And I ask you friend, what's a feller to do? ye'd be as quick as Richard Boyd-Barrett telling Enda Kenny he's a gobshite on a cold, brisk morning in the Dáil with a response.

3. Jumbo Breakfast Roll - Pat Shortt

A strange thing happened during the Celtic Tiger. Some people in Ireland, thanks to the increasing American influence on Irish popular culture and the transformation of the country from rural, priest-infested backwater to gaudy, pompous cosmopolitan hub, began to doubt whether we really were Irish any more. This diffidence manifested itself in different ways; people in South Dublin began bestowing Gaelic names like Fionán, Setanta and Cú Chulainn upon their children, the GAA saw a massive increase in popularity and revenue, alcohol consumption reached an all time high. We basically loved anything that was a bit traditional Irish, a bit bucolic, a bit Gaelic. That's where Pat Shortt came in. His comedy harked back to a time of Macaroon bars and Gay Byrne. And that's why Jumbo Breakfast Roll was so popular. That and the fact that we're all fat bastards.

4. Here Come The Good Times - Christy Dignam, Dave Couse, Nicky from Westlife, Dustin and a few more.

Yes children, there was once a time when Ireland went to international tournaments and didn't get the absolute hoop beaten off us. This was an absolute gem of a track leading up the 2002 World Cup. Musically, it's fine, but as a World Cup song it excels as it melded wonderfully simplistic lyrics with a cheery, beery chorus that even the most inebriated of Irish fans could sing along to with ease. Indeed, one of the highlights of the Celtic Tiger, for me anyway, was Robbie Keane's glorious, last minute equaliser against Ze Germans. And that celebration, of course. The song also ironically features the lyrics With Keane to lead us, we have nothing to fear.... Except a crap pitch in Saipan and a man from Barnsley.

5. One Horse Town - The Thrills

I don't know how many times I heard this song being played on 2fm on the way to school. Too many, yet still, not enough. This was a great song that was not killed by overplay, such was its excellence. Released in 2003, this song became the soundtrack to that particular summer. Not because it had some deep, figurative meaning behind it or anything like that, just because it's a bloody good song. It's a song to wake you up in the morning such is the urgency and vigour of its intro. It reminds me of shows on RTE 1 about redeveloping your home. I don't know why, it just does.

6. We've Got The World Tonight - Mickey Harte

There once was a time when we took the Eurovision seriously. We had a big talent show to decide who would go and the song that was sung would be written by someone important and renowned like Phil Coulter or Bryan McFadden. Contrary to popular belief, the Eurovision was still shite even when we did take it seriously. Our most prominent effort came from a Donegal man who won the first series of You're a Star. I remember thinking We've Got The World Tonight was the best song in the world when it was released. The majority of the Irish public agreed with me as it shot to No.1 in the charts and was the best selling song of 2003. In hindsight, I was a foolish young chap. My abiding memory of Mickey Joe Harte is being urged not to  vote for him in the You're A Star final  in the school playground with the charming adage "We love Simon, Mickey go fart." Simon was the other contestant in case you've forgotten.

7. The Langer Song - Tim O'Riordan Natural Gas

The second joke song on the list*, after the Jumbo Breakfast Roll of course, is unsurprising really. The mid-noughties were a ripe time for songs of a facetious nature; the popularity of Gift Grub reached its peak, Jumbo Breakfast Roll was released, in England you had the JCB Song and the Cheeky Girls and in 2004, the Langer Song was released. It's my personal favourite. By far the wittiest, by far the funniest and it even imported a new phrase into the Irish lexicon. The song's standing in Cork is akin to the standing of The Banks of My Own Lovely Lee and it led to a resurgence in a Cork brand of patriotism. Cork people can be patriotic as, of course, Cork is a different nation to Ireland. Reminds me of the Summer of 2004. A good summer. Kerry won the All-Ireland. Sound for spurring us on, ye langers.

*Well music is an abstract concept and as such entirely subjective so to someone else The Langer Song is a piece of music comparable to the majesty of Vivaldi's Four Seasons while something like We've Got The World Tonight is a joke song. It's up to you.

8. Falling Slowly - Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova

The newest song on this list, released in 2007, it just about made it in as, as you are of course are aware, things went tits up economically speaking relatively shortly after this song was released. But anyhoo, it makes it onto the list as it was probably the most celebrated of all the folk-y, acoustic-y tunes that were released during the Celtic Tiger years. And there were a lot. Between Damien Rice, Damien Dempsey, The Frames, Mick Flannery and scores more, we were spoiled for choice when it came to folk-y, acoustic-y music. And this song won an oscar as well. And it's really, really good. Reminds me of Grafton Street on an overcast, July afternoon in 2007.

9. Rocky Took A Lover - Bell X1 

If I were to make a montage of clips that I felt best summed up the Celtic Tiger era, I'd probably use Rocky Took A Lover as the soundtrack. It's so evocative. Like One Horse Town, it's a morning song. An early riser. It's got that great electric intro and the imposing drumbeat accompanying it. It reminds me of Jones' Road near Croke Park on matchday on a warm summer's day in 2006.

10. True Friends - Jerry Fish & the Mudbug Club

If there was any song that best typified the attitude and the atmosphere of Celtic Tiger Ireland, this was it. So carefree, so relaxing, so fun; a lot like the Celtic Tiger. This song rose to prominence in 2002 thanks to some phone ad but it's so much more than that. It's the song of the Celtic Tiger. We were so foolish, so naive, so unaware of the shitstorm that was awaiting us after the party finished. It reminds me of a sunny day in Killarney.

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