Whiskey in the Jar

From Academic Kids

"Whiskey in the Jar" is a famous Irish traditional song about an Irish highwayman (usually in the Cork and Kerry mountains), who is betrayed by his wife or lover. It is one of the most widely performed traditional Irish songs, and has been recorded by groups such as the Dubliners and The Pogues. It was also given a rock veneer by Irish rock band Thin Lizzy, with iconic lead singer Phil Lynott in 1973. Metallica recorded a cover of the Thin Lizzy version in 1998.

Contents

History and Backstory

The song's origins are lost in the mists of history. It is the tale of a highwayman who is betrayed by a woman named Jenny; whether she is his wife or sweetheart is not made clear. Various versions of the song take place in Kerry, Kilmagenny, Cork, and other locales throughout Ireland. The narrator of the song is never named. The only named figures are the sweetheart, "Jenny"/"Molly", and an Anglo-Irish official, "Captain Farrell"/"Colonel Pepper", neither of which aid in the dating of the song.

Judging from the use of a rapier it is likely that the lyrics date back to at least the late eighteenth century. In at least one version, a reference to the narrator's 'sabre' is made rather than his 'rapier'.

It was a favorite in Colonial America because of its irreverent attitude towards British officials.


Lyrics

Like most Irish drinking songs, "Whiskey in the Jar" has no single standard set of lyrics. This variation is largely due to regional differences in dialect as well as the variable stages of inebriation in which it is sung.

The title "Whiskey in the Jar", heard in the chorus, has nothing to do with the rest of the lyrics to the song.

The most widely-sung version of the song is sung with the following lyrics:

As I was going over the far famed Kerry mountains
I met with Captain Farrell, and his money he was counting.
I first produced my pistol, and then produced my rapier.
Sayin' stand and deliver, for I am a bold deceiver,
Chorus:
musha ring dumma do damma da
whack for the daddy 'ol
whack for the daddy 'ol
there's whiskey in the jar
I counted out his money, and it made a pretty penny.
I put it in my pocket and I took it home to Jenny.
She sighed and then she swore, that she never would deceive me,
but the Devil take the women, for they never can be easy
[chorus]
I went into my chamber, all for to take a slumber,
I dreamt of gold and jewels and for sure it was no wonder.
But Jenny took my charges and she filled them up with water,
Then sent for Captain Farrell to be ready for the slaughter.
[chorus]
It was early in the morning, as I rose up for travel,
Up comes a band of footmen and likewise Captain Farrell.
I first produced my pistol, for she stole away my rapier,
But I couldn't shoot the water so a prisoner I was taken.
[chorus]
If anyone can aid me, it's my brother in the army,
If I can find his station down in Cork or in Killarney.
And if he'll come and save me, we'll go roving near Kilkenny,
And I swear he'll treat me better than me darling sportling Jenny
[chorus]
Now some men take delight in the carriages a-rollin',
And others take delight in the hurley and the bowlin'.
But I take delight in the juice of the barley,
And courting pretty fair maids in the morning bright and early
[chorus]

Thin Lizzy Lyrics

Thin Lizzy's version, especially Metallica's cover, is extremely popular in dance clubs. Although the content is mostly the same, the lyrics stray from the lyrics above. The most notable difference is that it features a girl named Molly, not Jenny.

As I was going over the Cork and Kerry mountains
I saw Captain Farrell and his money he was counting
I first produced my pistol and then produced my rapier
I said "stand and deliver or the devil he may take you"
I took all of his money and it was a pretty penny
I took all of his money, yeah, and I brought it home to Molly
She swore that she loved me, no, never would she leave me
But the devil take that woman, for you know she tricked me easy
Chorus
Musha rain dum-a-do-dum-a-da
Whack for my daddy-o
Whack for my daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar-o
Being drunk and weary I went to Molly's chamber
Take Molly with me, but I never knew the danger
For about six or maybe seven, yeah, in walked Captain Farrell
I jumped up, fired my pistols, and I shot him with both barrels,
[chorus]
Now some men like the fishing, and some men like the fowling
And some men like to hear, to hear the cannonballs a-roaring
Me: I like sleeping, especially in my Molly's chamber
But here I am in prison, here I am with a ball and chain, yeah
[chorus x 2]

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