Sunday morning music

Miss D. and I are experimenting with making our own Van Der Hum, a South African brandy-based liqueur of which we’re fond.  Sadly, there’s no longer a US importer of the stuff, so once our last bottle has been consumed, we’ll be without it . . . unless we can find an alternative.  Fortunately, it’s been home-made for generations in South Africa, and there are several recipes online and in print, so we’re giving it a try.  I’ll let you know how it works out once we’ve got past the first, experimental batch, and we’re closer to the real thing.

Be that as it may, I got to thinking about the number of songs out there concerning whisky (with or without an ‘e’), brandy, and other “waters of life”, as spirits have often been described.  I don’t think it’s possible to tally all of the songs.  The number must measure well into three figures, if not four!  However, I’ve had fun looking.  This week, I thought I’d tackle whisk(e)y.  I may tackle different spirits in weeks and months to come.  Let me know in Comments if you have a favorite you’d like to see (or hear).

Many whiskeys contain barley as one of their ingredients, so I thought we’d begin with a traditional ballad, performed by English rock group Traffic as the title track of their 1970 album ‘John Barleycorn Must Die‘.

From now on, the pace picks up.  Let’s hear the O’Reillys and the Paddyhats perform ‘Barrels of Whiskey’, from their album ‘Seven Hearts:  One Soul‘.

In a more folksy vein, here’s the Irish Rovers with ‘The Rare Old Mountain Dew’.

Crossing the Atlantic for the American version of uisce beatha, here’s Willie Nelson and Toby Keith in a live performance of the title track from the album ‘Beer for my horses‘.

In a lighter-hearted vein, here’s Irish group Patrick Street with the tongue-in-cheek song ‘Humors of the King of Ballyhooley’ from their 1993 album ‘Irish Times‘.  It’s about a distiller of illicit whiskey, and how he found the love of his life.  I’d never heard of an illegal whiskey still being used as an incentive to marriage, but I’m sure it’s happened!

And finally, here’s a live, rollicking, foot-stomping, folk rock rendition of the traditional Irish ballad ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ by the Killdares.  I’ve cut out the long, slow violin introduction to concentrate on the song itself – click over to the YouTube version for the full track.

That’s a rattling good collection of songs about at least one ‘spirit of the age’ (just about any age, I guess!).  I’ll see if I can find equally good ones about other spirits for future consumption (you should pardon the expression).



  1. The Limeliters have a good "Whiskey in the Jar" as well. Some of my favourites include:

    Heylan Gar
    Here's to Britta when she bakes / She puts whiskey in her cakes

    Whiskey You're M'Darlin'
    If I had a cow which gave such milk / I'd dress her up in the finest silk / I'd feed her up on oats and hay. I'd milk her 20 times a day!

    Have Some Madeira M'dear

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