I’m a fan of the Irish singer Christy Moore, not least because of his central role in innovative groups such as Planxty and Moving Hearts, and because of his humane intelligence. My wife found in our local library (we live in an area with quite a lot of Irish people in it) a book – One Voice: My Life In Song – in which Moore talks about many of his songs. It is one of those books you can dip in and out of at will, finding something interesting every time.
His entry for his song “Delerium Tremens”, (“goodbye to the port and brandy, the vodka and the stout”) which is basically a song about drinking so much that you start to imagine that all sorts of fantastickal things have happened, had my wife laughing out loud. There’s a set of lyrics here that give you a flavour, but the song has the same strength as the talking blues, in that you can adapt it for almost any set of circumstances. Some of the original lyrics were very ‘topically Irish’ if broadly understandable, but in the book Moore says he’s modified these endlessly:
I dreamt that Mr. Haughey had recaptured Crossmaglen
Then Garret got re-elected and gave it back again.
Dick Spring and Roger Casement were on board the Marita-Ann
As she sailed into Fenit they were singin’ Banna Strand.
I dreamt Archbishop McNamara was on Spike Island for 3 nights
Havin’ been arrested for supportin’ Traveller’s rights.
One of the lines in the chorus is about an old Guinness ad (“As I sat lookin’ up at the Guinness ad I could never figure out/ How your man stayed up on the surfboard after 14 pints of stout”) and in the piece Moore says that having drunk so much of the black stuff he wrote to Guinness with a suggestion for a (very Irish) advertising tag line: “Guinness turns your shite back”.
He also says that he never got a reply.