Whiskey in the Jar: An Irish noir ballad
My trip to Ireland turned up another classic: "Whiskey in the Jar." This humorous noir story tells of a highwayman who robs a captain, then brings the money to his (the highwayman's) girlfriend or wife. Here's where the noir comes in: This Jenny is in league with the captain. She disarms the protagonist while he sleeps, then calls in the captain "to be ready for the slaughter."
Where's the humor? In the song's rollicking, sing-along beat, in the protagonist's bluff attitude, and in the song's desperately hopeful ending, at least in the versions available today. (In one form or another, the song dates to the middle of the seventeenth century.)
Want to hear "Whiskey in the Jar"? Visit any pub in Ireland. By my reckoning, it's the most popular song in the country. Or listen to The Dubliners sing it here.
© Peter Rozovsky 2008