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Whiskey In The Jar

by

Thin Lizzy



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Traditionally an Irish folk song, this was covered by The Dubliners in 1967 before Thin Lizzy rocked it up in 1972 for their breakthrough hit. (thanks, Brad - Brisbane, Australia)
This tells the story of a bandit in southwest Ireland who robs an English Army Officer to keep his girlfriend Molly happy after she promises to love him forever. She then betrays him and the young man is taken to jail.
Metallica recorded a popular cover of this song on their 1998 Garage, Inc. album. Other notable versions are by The Pogues, The Dubliners, U2, Pulp and Smokie. The lyrics of this song can vary from version to version, but most covers use the Thin Lizzy lyrics. (thanks, Stephen - Kilkenny, Ireland, for above 2)
Although a massive first hit for Thin Lizzy, this was actually meant to be the B-side. The band recorded "Black Boys On The Corner" as the A-side and put the old traditional Irish Song "Whiskey In The Jar" on the B-side because they didn't have anything else. It was the record company that decided to make "Whiskey in the Jar" the A-side. (thanks, Michael Dickson - Denia, Spain)
Thin Lizzy
Thin Lizzy Artistfacts
More Thin Lizzy songs
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More songs about encounters with the law

Comments (48):

Phil Lynott, (along with co-founder and drummer Brian Downey) was the heart and soul of Thin Lizzy and his tragic passing is a reminder of the pressures of keeping up with fame and producing hit records. Drugs took their toll on this talented vocalist and bass guitarist, whose contributions to classic rock can't be overstated. With "Whiskey in the Jar," "Boys are Back in Town" and "Jailbreak," the original Thin Lizzy band has stood the test of time.
- Henry, New Smyrna Beach, FL
OH, btw Wurm... anyone who brings politics into heavy metal ain't much of a songwriter. Besides, for much of his career following, he made great music with Megadeth, but was a whiny, stoned, idiot for a long time.
- Adam, Clinton Township, MI
The lines musha-ring-dum-a-doo-dum-a-da are gibbberish, but it's Irish gibberish.

Good song, haven't heard TL's version... still hunting it up.
- Adam, Clinton Township, MI
ground-breaking version of an old Irish ballad that made people sit up and listen to something different, and led the way for many other guitar bands to follow in later years, including the great Metallica. Thin Lizzy did it first.
- paul, dublin, Ireland
Is there any meaning behind the line "Whack for my daddy-o" or is it just a continuation of the preceding jibberish?
- Ed, Canton, OH
I'm too late for the Metallica comments...lol! I love this song! This Lizzy and Metallica! Hey Metallica fans you know WHY the new stuff sounds so different? Because they ran out of stuff that was stolen from Dave Mustaine! lol! I respect making new sounding music...but the napster thing was just greedy. If it weren't for pirated underground tapes from back in the day metallica wouldn't be s--t!!!!
- Wurm, Hicktoria, TX
I don't know where this song originated. but I know I like it.
- niles, Belpre, OH
The only thing better than whiskey in the jar is whiskey in my belly. Jameson GET IN MAH BELLY!
- Jason, Denver, CO
The story sounds like an old Irish song my dad used to sing called the "Wild Colonial Boy"
- Scott, Ottawa - living in SA TX, TX
Im a massive fan of both lizzy(got to see them in the olympia in Dublin last week with john sykes on lead vocals..ROCK!) and metallica and although im an irish man i have to say i prefer metallicas version.
- Richie, Trim, Ireland
This version is so much sadder than other versions I have heard. It's like Lynott took all the sorrows of the Irish and plugged it into his guitar
- James, Gettysburg, PA
No matter where you go, you will always find someone dissing Metallica. BTW, this is a great song, and Metallica's version isn't half bad either.
- Wayne, Crockett, TX
Another great song from another great Irish band...
- John, Galway, Ireland
The song is called "Whiskey In The Jar" not "Whiskey In A Jar"
- Bill, Arroyo Gande, CA
i am irish and "Musha ring dum a doo dum a da" is just music jibber-jabber..Great song
- Rob, Cork, Ireland
Just out of curiosity, what is that "Musha ring dum a doo dum a da"? Love the song and the band, was just wondering if that phrase is Irish and means something, or just musical jibber-jabber stuff.
- Lisa, Vandergrift, PA
Also, it's Metallica.
Not Mettalica you twat.
- Ian, San Diego, CA
Also, Andrew. The Metallica of the 90's (when they chopped their hair) were strongly innovative with their music. Not only did they bring us Fuel, which has now become one of their favorite songs, but they kept it going. Even after they lost some of their "real fans" as you so distinctly put it. A band that changes their sound and then breaks up isn't a band in my opinion. A band that can stay standing after stuff like Cliff Burton being decapitated in front of their eyes, their fans burning their CD's because they had their own opinion about Napster, and all the other stuff they've endured over the decades is a real band. They're a tough band, and they know what they're doing. Plus, they're not affraid to try new things. I'm confident that if and when they come out with a new album it will be outstanding.
- Ian, San Diego, CA
Dear andrew, you are a half fan because you only like the old stuff. when a real fan loves all the songs. your lame!!!:(
- joe mama, lacrosse, WI
And I meen a fan of their old stuff. And one more thing Garage inc., St anger, Load, Reload all sucked and sounded totally different from there old stuff. When a band aleinates there fans like that they deserve to lose there respect.
- Andrew, Hamilton, Canada
I believe Metallica has paved the way for many bands and many more to come
_Gary,Watertown,NY
- gary, watertown, NY
oops forgot to add that there is a also a cover by U2, an old Irish song by a rocking Irish band.
- Philip, Calcutta, India
The original lyric does say Jenny and not Molly, what is interesting about the song is the play on the words ball and chain in the last verse. It is play on both women as well as the fact that the singer is in jail.
- Philip, Calcutta, India
If Thin Lizzy hadn't done their cover there wouldn't have been Metallica's who obviously heard Thin Lizzy and did a harder version. People relate to the then and now so most people don't know who Thin Lizzy was, the first great rock band out of Ireland. Van Morrison's "Them" excepted.
- Alan, Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
The title is "Whiskey in the Jar."
Jake-Rob Roy was a Scottish hero. This song is not about him.
Old Irish folk songs never really have set lyrics, they vary by performer.
The line about Cork and Kerry Mountains, I have a book that says "far famed Kerry Mountains." The woman in the book version is named Jenny, not Molly. This is what Tommy Makem & the Clancy Brothers always sing when he does this song.
To doctorbob-How would a Scot have ended the story differently? Atleast the Irish won back most of their own country from the British, who still control Scotland.
- Jim, Troy, NY
I agree with John in Baltimore...Garcia and Grisman did this song the was it was meant to be...
- Mike, Warwick, RI
Its ok now, I have just realised that the lyrics are available above. Thanks
- Paul Gimlik, Hereford, England
I can only tell you that the song blew my mind
- ALex, El Paso, TX
My favourite version is by the clancy brothers. Metallica pretty much defiled the song.
- Linus, Hamilton, ON, Canada
The best version I've ever heard of this song was done by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman on their 1995 album of old folk songs "Shady Grove". Great album, too... available online at:
http://stores.musictoday.com/store/product.asp?dept_id=1553&pf_id=DECD127&band_id=171&sfid=7
- John, Baltimore, MD
sorry about that,
but as i was saying: BELEIVE IT OR NOT, the first time i heard this song(which was just yesterday)i cried like a kid----of course the lyrics didn't make me cry, but the music----MetallicA are the lords of heavy metal....
- Charbel, Sydney
it makes feel isolated and rejected....i dont really like it...........but i respect MetallicA!!!!!!!!
- Charbel, Sydney
I found the song animated on stick death theater: check it out. It's so freakin funny. http://www.stickdeath.com/whisky.html
- Bridgett, Fort Worth, TX
Doctor Bob.. In the metallica version and thin lizzy version its Cork and Kerry mountains, But it should be Kilgary Mountains. Even some of the words in this cover are mixed up. Im a civil war reenactor , and this is a favorite around the camp fire (the original that is) I was surprised when I heard Metallica covering! They may have sold out, but at least they still have some culture!
- Frank, Selden, NY
I used to be drunk, also. It's the Cork and Kerry mountains. Too bad they are Irish. A Scot would have ended the story differently.
- doctorbob, gainesville, FL
This is an old irish drinking song that is about the folk hero Rob Roy. The irish version is much longer, and goes more into the life of Roy who turned into a cattle thief after his land was taken from him by the British. He was sort of a Robin Hood, he only stole from wealty Brits, etc.
The Metallica version was basically about him finding and robbing Captain Farrell in the Kilgary MOuntains, a crime that he was found guilty and sent to prison for..only to be pardoned later.
- Jake, radford, VA
I was certainly not referring to any "stickdeath"-video. Contact me and give me your address, and I'll mail the video to you so you can see for yourselves!
- Marcus, Nykoping, Sweden
one of the gems in the crown of Garage Days ReRevisited...
- rob, perth, Australia
Ok about the last person, I think the person is talking about the site www.stickdeath.com. The person made a music video on this song and it is quite good. once you get to the site it is called 5 moca but "whisky in a jar" is right next to that name. I highly recommend the video.
- J, Boston, MA
There's also a quite awesome video to this song - not Metallica's video, but another, better one, made by an astonishingly skilful amateur. It's not very easy to get, but I have it on my computer, so if you want to see it, please contact me at maccan@compaqnet.se.
Great song, by the way, Metallica's version is much better than Thin Lizzy's. It rocks!
- Marcus, Nykoping, Sweden
this was a old newfoundland song.
- kurtis, mount pearl, Canada
There's a film set in Ireland and starring Pierce Brosnan called The Nephew, where the lyrics of this song are rapped. The effect is pretty poor, as you may imagine.
- Paulo, India, United States
The song is not actually about the woman leaving the thief, in fact she she just tells the Captian where he is. He bursts in while they are in bed, and 'I jumped up by my pistols, and shot him with both barrels'. The origional folk version (which i learned on guitar many years ago) has an extra verse after that and referes to Molly watering down his charges, rendering his gun useless.
Also the 'Whisky in the Jar' is not about alcoholism, but is actually refering to the robbery giving him a retirment fund (or having whisky in the jar)
- Neil, London, England
this is an old irish folk song, the idea of folk is to tell a blatantly obvious story with no listener interpritation, just bare faced obviouse lyrics.

the song basially tells the story of a man robbing an army captain of his money, and taking it home to his missus to giv her luxurys. She then leaves him with the money

the man hits the bottle and one night drunkenly goes to see the woman. He then finds her with the captain that he robbed. The captain advances with the aim to shoot and kill the man, but hes too quick and shoots the captain. The man is then on the run from the law but is caught and imprisoned. where he whisky smuggled in in jars, hence the title

So there ye go lol
- hetfield, manchester, England
Seven Nations, a scottish rock band, does a kick-a$$ version more of the traditional style. I found a live bootleg of it with an amazing bagpipe solo in the middle.
- Christian, Colorado Springs, CO
I've heard this done by Thin Lizzy and I think it's great. I like Metallica even more so I'd love to hear them do this.
- Tom, Trowbridge, England
One of the greatest songs performed by the Smothers Brothers
- Becki, Denver, CO
My dad used to sing this when he was drunk.
- Jade, Sterling Heights, MI
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