"Whiskey In The Jar" is a traditional Irish folks song that's been recorded since the early 1950's, involving a Highwayman who's been betrayed by his lover, and his passion for nothing but the courage he takes from whiskey in the jar, and his ever embolden road crimes. For me, it's a traditional song from Vietnam, and a kid who used to sit on an empty 50 gallon oil drum, fingering the strings for anyone willing to listen, with a bottle of rye at his feet. I never knew his last name, but I used to stand at the door of my hootch and listen, and from time to time, wandering over and asking him to "Please, play Whiskey." I do remember the night I realized he hadn't played in several days, I've no idea what became of that young jungle highwayman, I can only hope that he found his way home, and found some peace, because the passion he laid out as he sang was numbing.
Back in 1972, on the other side of the world, I'd no idea that Thin Lizzy had released this song as a 45 rpm until I stumbled upon it at a Shake & Bake ... that's where someone's rotating home, or worse, and their superfluous personal items, those which wouldn't be sent back to the world, were traded among those of us still in the mix, and I scooped it up like a diamond from heaven. For a couple of weeks, pops and all, I spun that single on my Tele-Tone player at the appointed hour, as if by sheer will I could conjure that beautiful boy back into being ... it was just one of many things I did to maintain a connection, to keep from slipping off the planet.
"Whiskey In The Jar" is a haunting song, one filled with dynamic overlays, tired graveled vocals, attention to being, structured for emotional effect, and achieving all of them ... bringing me to tears, dropping me to my knees, watching half forgotten ghosts dance in the flames, wondering why my youth seems so far behind, and longing to see that young man reach out and take my hand once more, ripping memories from my heart, and causing me to stutter for an explanation of something I'll never be able to express.
I'm just glad I still have this 45, pops and all, to take me exactly where I need to go on those star-filled moonless nights, when the other side of the world reaches out, and holds me in a warm hand.
Review by Jenell Kesler