Home » blog » The Clancy Brothers: “Finnegan’s Wake”

The Clancy Brothers: “Finnegan’s Wake”

Editor’s note: The Daily Music Break often re-posts music from earlier in the site’s run. This great video originally posted on April 10, 2012. 


The Clancy Brothers, who played with Tommy Makem until 1969, were great talkers as well as great singers. About half of the above version of Finnegan’s Wake is a reading by Tommy Clancy from the James Joyce novel that is based on the same story: A man revives at his own wake when whiskey thrown by one mourner at another hits him.

Perhaps I’m thinking this way because Easter just passed, but there seems to be a religious subtext:

The corpse revives! See how he raises!
Timothy rising from the bed,
Says,”Whirl your whiskey around like blazes
Thanum an Dhul! Do you thunk I’m dead?”

The clip, by the way, is from the old David Frost show. Here are a later version of the same routine and the lyrics. Information about the influential Irish band is available at the group’s Facebook page and at more than one site.

Here are The Irish RoverThe Drunken Sailor, Rocky Road to Dublin and Beer, Beer, Beer.

Sign Up for TDMB Daily Email Blasts

TDMB offers daily one-video email blasts. A different genre each day of the week. They are quick hits: Just great music and a bit of context.

Sign up below or, for more info, click here.

Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.