The Boys Are Back In Town

Album: Jailbreak (1976)
Charted: 8 12
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Songfacts®:

  • Written by group leader Phil Lynott, "The Boys Are Back In Town" reflects Thin Lizzy's rough-and-tumble composure and working-class roots. The song was a way of connecting with their fans, who had similar sensibilities.

    Thin Lizzy would often stir up trouble and end up in fights - their roadies were chosen based in part on their pugilistic skills. The group also drank heavily and had a blast. The song became their calling card.

    This lifestyle took a tragic toll on Lynott, who died in 1986 at 36 after his body broke down from years of drug and alcohol abuse.
  • This was a pivotal song for Thin Lizzy, which was on their last legs when it became a hit. In 1972, they had a huge hit in their native Ireland with their version of "Whiskey In The Jar," but weren't able to follow it up and couldn't make a dent in America. They were in debt and their label, Phonogram, was ready to drop them if they didn't get return from the Jailbreak album. "The Boys Are Back In Town," released as the first single, gave them the hit they needed and established them in America, a huge market for rock bands. With this footing, their next few albums were solid sellers, especially in the UK, and they expanded their range as a live act.
  • Folks in Manchester, England, will tell you "The Boys Are Back In Town" is about the Quality Street Gang, a criminal enterprise not unlike the Mafia. Phil Lynott spent much of his youth in Manchester, where his mom ran a club called the Showbiz. The QSG would often hang out there, always "dressed to kill" (they were so named because of their fashion sense).

    A key member of the gang was Jimmy "The Weed" Donnelly, the subject of a song on Thin Lizzy's next album called "Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed."
  • The Dino's Bar And Grill mentioned in the song is probably a real place, but which one is up for debate. Deno's was a Manchester nightclub the Quality Street Gang would frequent; Dino's Lodge was a Hollywood cabaret with a Dean Martin theme (Martin was a business partner). It shows up in the opening credits of the TV series 77 Sunset Strip.

    Drink would flow at both establishments, but if you're looking for a place where blood would spill, it was definitely Deno's.
  • This has been used in a number of TV commercials over the years, including spots for Wrangler, Chase credit cards, and Applebee's.
  • Everclear covered this for the 1999 film Detroit Rock City. Their version was later used in the movie A Knight's Tale. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Tom - Trowbridge, England
  • "The Boys Are Back In Town" plays in four episodes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It also shows up in these TV series:

    The Simpsons ("Singin' in the Lane" - 2017)
    Supernatural ("Book of the Damned" - 2015)
    Hawaii Five-0 ("Kuka'awale" - 2015)
    Cougar Town ("All the Wrong Reasons" - 2010)

    And in these movies:

    The Expendables (2010)
    Things to Do Before You're 30 (2005)
    Trojan War (1997)
    Navy Seals (1990)
  • Thin Lizzy were surprised when this became their breakthrough hit – because they hadn't wanted it on their Jailbreak album. Guitarist Scott Gorham recalled to Classic Rock: "We were playing in some club in the US when our manager came in and said, 'Well, looks like we've got a hit.' We were like, 'Which song?' Seriously, we didn't have any idea at all which song it was that had taken off for us."

    "To tell you the truth, we weren't initially going to put 'The Boys Are Back In Town' on the Jailbreak album at all," he continued. "Back then you picked 10 songs and went with those because of the time restrictions of vinyl."

    "We recorded 15 songs, and of the 10 we picked, that wasn't one of them," Gorham added. "But then the management heard it and said, 'No, there's something really good about this song.' Although back then, it didn't yet have the twin guitar parts on it."

Comments: 56

  • Jon from Tacoma Wa UsaWhere is the Dino's Bar and Grill Thin Lizzy is singing about in The Boys Are Back in Town?
  • AnonymousI heard it was written about a motorcycle club
  • Anonymous from Ballybunion Ireland Think This song Boy's are back in town was written here one weekend when Phil Lynott played here at JDs bar
  • Larry from UkJust watched a documentary about a gang in Manchester (quality street gang) that drank at Phil Lynotts mums bar and it was stated that he wrote the song about them, one saying that the gang had recently returned from holiday and Philly's mum said to him to wait and see them because "the boys are back in town"
    Interesting if true
  • Ian from Manchester, United KingdomI think it's about the QSG, if in doubt ask Philamena ,she was at my daughters christening with Joan Schiavo at St Anne's church.
  • Ian from Manchester, United KingdomIt's about the QSG Manchester.
  • Robert from Dublin, IrelandJust to correct the inaccuracies above. The Boys are back in town has nothing to do with the Citadel & Charlestown nor the states, it's a Dublin song!! God knows were these ideas come from. Phil Lynott was friends with Dino (Surname left out for privacy) from Dublin who ran a "Burger Bar & Grill". I've seen the pictures of them together and I've heard the stories of their youth. Thank You.
  • Mark from Rogers, , ArYou Tube has an interview with Phil in late 1985. By that time he was very ill but he tried his best to hide it and was making many future plans.
  • Jloost from Utrecht, NetherlandsGuys, Whiskey in the Jar is an Irish classic folk song... Thin Lizzy didn't make it up! But they made that awesome riff allright :P
  • Laura from El Paso, TxDaryl from Stoke England is right. Thin Lizzy had Whiskey in the Jar which is such a good song it has been covered by Metallica even. This is a great band and this is a great song.
  • Joe from La, CaBruce Spingsteen had nothing to do with this song. The Jersey Shore Boss did have one good song: Born in the USSA. But that's it man. Nothing that a hard working LEGIT Irish band (that means they are European - aka sophisticated) would want to rip. A few smaller bands have listed Lizzy and Phil as having a slight influence on them: Metallica, U2, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Smashing Pumpkins, but these are more indie type bands you might not know... Bottom line: Phil was and IS the MAN!!
  • Jim from Long Beach, CaThis song is about the America Troops coming back from that useless Vietnam War. Phil said the record company wanted some material that sounded 'American". This was their ticket to America and the rest of the world..
  • Georgia from Charleston, ScJohn from Charleston: There are several similarities between these lyrics and the Citadel/Charleston.
    1) The Cadets from T company are known as "The Boys."
    2) When the Cadets come back from summer break we used to say "The Boys are back" - even the news casters used the expression. And of course, Charleston in the summer is HOT.
    3) On Friday nights the Cadets get to leave campus, but they have to be dressed in uniform (except for Senior who have to wear proper suits and they were usually "dressed to kill") and they always looked good in their uniforms - regardless of summer or winter.
    4) YEARS ago there was a place over on the Crosstown, were the Hardee's is now (N. Cannon St. & Vaughn St), that was called Dino's Bar and Grill were plenty of drinks and blood were spilt during fights. There was also a place called Johnny's. Of course, both had jukeboxes in a corner.
    5) For us girls, summer came too quick once The Boys were in town

    Even if it's not the same Dino's, there are too many similarities between the song and the Citadel for the song not to have been "adopted" by The Boys...
  • Steve from Northampton, United KingdomI'm just about old enough to have seen Thin Lizzy live. Saw them in Machester (England) 1983 on farewell tour. Also saw Phil live with Gary Moore in 1985. For lesser known songs (but good ones in my opinion) check out Philomena from the Nighlife album (1974). It's about Phil's Mum. I've met her and she's lovely. Also try King's Vengeance and Freedom Song from the Fighting album (1975), and also from Fighting - For Those Who Love To Live. Phil dedicated this to George Best who played for Manchester United (Phil's fdavourite soccer team). Search for this on You Tube. (Not The Tube although that performance is there as well.) Oh yeah, and also on You Tube the pre-Thunder & Lightning release Hitchin gig that was broadcast on the BBC.
  • Ed from Deal, EnglandI can remember Phil saying this song is about Manchester United football fans. It mentions "Friday night" and "Dressed to kill" pre match piss up in Manu colours?
  • Clubber Lange from Ocean Gate, NjThey may have ripped Bruce off, but thats what us rockstars do man...
  • Jfv from Philadelphia, PaFirst of all, could all of you people please get your facts straight if you are going to post a comment that is written as though it was a fact? For example, as several people have already noted, just because this song shares the same title as one by "The Busboys" does not mean Thin Lizzy ripped them off. Likewise, just because the chorus shares several words with Springsteen's "Kitty's Back In Town" does not mean Phil Lynott got the idea from Bruce. They are both un-substantiated statements that cheapen sites like this. Keep your drivel to yourself!


    Lastly, I can understand saying you were never a big fan of this song, but to say it's on the top of your list of worst rock songs of all time makes you sound absolutely ridiculous. I performed this song in a cover band on many occasions, and the crowd reaction we got was always fantastic. Why can't anyone ever admit that they may not like the band overall, but this particular song was pretty damn good. Or better yet, just say nothing at all because, otherwise, you just sound foolish.
  • Rich from Lowell, MaPhil Lynott got the idea for the chorus for this song by Bruce Springsteens song kittys back
  • Rastous from Manchester, United KingdomKeith from Dublin - well done mate. You're the only one who got it right. The song WAS inspired by the antics of the Quality Street gang that ran the Manchester underworld in the 1960's. (By the way, that's the original one in England, not some US town that borrowed the name). Phil Lynott's mum ran a shabeen (illegal drinking den) which the gang used to use, and where Phil grew up. Dino's bar and grill was on a street that was re-developed into a motorway (freeway)
  • Calvin from Conway, ArI was told by some guy I think is a moron that KISS did a cover of Lizzy's tune. I know Everclear covered it on the "Detroit Rock City" soundtrack. Please tell me KISS didn't cover it. I love KISS and I love Thin Lizzy, but did they overlap??? AAAAGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!
  • Tiebee from Tulsa, OkBusBoys??? wth? Bet "Patrick" feels sorry for posting that... Grief.
  • John from Los Angeles, CaThey have a ton of great songs. Check out Wild One, The Rocker and We Will Be Strong.
  • Brian from Richmond , VaMy all time favorite song!! I remember being about 6 or 7 years old and listening to it on my blue transistor radio. I couldn't wait to hear it over and over again. I still get a charge every time I hear it and it is going on over 30 years!

    The dual guitars of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertsonare a trademark of Thin Lizzy and they were forerunners in that regard. Phil Lynott's vocals were amazing on this song. The song has been used in commercials and it just flat out rocks.
  • Maria The Innocent from Orlando, FlThin Lizzy at it's finest. I love wailing on the old air guitar with this one. Thank you Thin Lizzy!
  • Mark from Grafton, United StatesWhoever confused the Bus Boy's song with the Thin Lizzy song of the same name is way wrong. The Thin Lizzy song was about the GI's returning from Vietnam. Remember this song came out in 1975, when the US was leaving Vietnam. The Bus Boy's song is from the film "48 Hours," and doesn't share anything with the Lizzy song except the identical title. And the Bus Boys song came out years AFTER the Thin Lizzy song (70's vs 80's).
  • Troy from Pensacola, FlPatrick in Los Angeles, CA.
    Actually, if you read the Lyrics you will see for yourself The Busboys version that is used in 48 Hours is a completely Different song than the Thin Lizzy song, It is just the same title.
  • Haizel from Anchorage, Akgreat song i had it stuck in my head all day at school once! XD
  • Ray from Spring, TxPatrick, just because the songs have the same title doesn't mean they are the same song. Please listen to them again.
  • Josef from Corpus Christi, TxI think someone needs to make a movie about Thin Lizzy. Yeah Jay Chandaskar can play Phil Lynott. That would be the shizzzzle.
  • Nathan from From The Country Of, Canadathe best before/after game hockey song
  • Patrick from Los Angeles, CaI think it's funny that Thin Lizzy gets the credit for "The Boys are Back in Town". The song originally was created by a group called The Busboys (a 1970's L.A. bar band at the time of the creation of the song). Gus Louderman was the vocalist (a personal friend of mine). The song finally made it's debut by the originators on the album "The Boys are Back in Town", and can be heard on the the movie "48 Hours Soundtrack" by the real musicians that created it. I will give credit to Thin Lizzy making it popular. However, give credit where credit is due and do your homework.
  • Devon from Westerville, Ohthis is a good song. the main riff is pretty sweet. also it appears in Capitol One commercials.
  • Brian K from New York, NyIts funny. People here are mostly wrong. The only correct person is the one who was talking about the album sleeve. :) Go read it

    Thin Lizzy is one of those hidden gems that came from the 70's. Most people only know of them from either The Boys Are Back In Town or Whiskey In The Jar. They are my second favorite band of all time closely behind Metallica. They were very very influential to alot of bands out today. Metallica being one of them. Also U2 started out as a cover band for them. They were an opening act for Thin Lizzy in 1981. Phil Lynott is a one of the few artists who can tell a story through a song. From beginning to end. Most if not all of Thin Lizzy's material is amazing. From the heart wrenching cry for help track "I Got To Give It Up". That track Phil Lynott was crying out for help to everyone. I can name 10 tracks that are amazing. Got To Give It Up. S&M. My Sarah. Toughest Street In Town. Sweetheart. Call The Police. Genocide. Heart Attack(Another cry for help). Killer On The Loose. A Song For While Im Away. I could go on but I wont.

    RIP PHILLIP PARIS LYNOTT!
  • Keith from Dublin, Irelandim afraid your all wrong the boys are back in town was written about a street gang in manchester called the quality street gang,if you read the album sleeve on jailbreak you'll see for yourself. keith dublin
  • Chris from Bradenton, FlThe Everclear version was NOT used in A Knights Tail, it was the original by the Thin Lizzy. I own both movies as well as the soundtrack to Detroit Rock City with the Everclear version on it and someone once told me it was in a Knights Tale, well I compared the one in the movie to both the original and the cover and original, and it matched the original, he STILL didnt believe me that it was the original so I checked the credits and it was performed by the Thin Lizzy
  • Greg from Dublin, IrelandThis song is actually about GIs coming home from Vietnam. It's original title was "GI Joe comes home"
  • Roddy from Waterford, Ireland, Irelandcheck out WWW.ROISINDUBH.INFO

    This is the OFFICIAL Philip Lynott website. He was the singer, bass player and founder of this 'far from one hit wonder' Irish hard rock band
  • Joseph from Manteca, CaEverclear actually covered this song for the movie "Detroit Rock City".
  • Jim from Minneapolis, MnAt the top of my list of worst rock 'n roll songs ever...
  • Aj from Cleveland, GaI guess they were just a one hit wonder by, of course, America's means
  • Dee from Indianapolis, InI loved this song as a kid, but it took me years to find out the lead singer wasn't white. To this day I still have a hard time remembering that when I hear Thin Lizzy songs.
  • Roddy from Waterford, Ireland, IrelandIf you like Philip Lynott and Thin Lizzy your gonna LOVE this www.roisindubh.info
  • Nessie from Sapporo, Japan<> More like a six-hot wonder, but those six are truly wonderful. This song has the best vocal phrasing of any rock song ever (leave it to the Irish). It manages to be hard and driving, but still surprising light, thanks to the spare rhytm guitar and drumming. One of my all-time rock faves.
  • John from Charleston , SdThe Citadel Cadets adopted this song and its played in Charleston every summer dozens of times. any connection?
  • Brian from Corpus Christi, Txthe harmonizing guitars after the chourus are awesome
  • Daryl from Stoke, EnglandThe songs actually about the biker gangs in america...
  • Daryl from Stoke, EnglandPhil Lynott played the bass on nearly all of the Lizzy tracks except Whiskey in the Jar...on which he played rhythm.
    1. Eric Bell plays guitar on 'THE ROCKER' (not 'im a rocker' Phil was THE rocker...thats what the song is trying to stress)
    2. Mother Mary isnt even a Thin Lizzy song...it's a UFO song
  • Michael from Gso, NcOr how about Phil's insane guitar solo in "Im a Rocker", his heartwrenching out cry in "Mother Mary", or "Rosalie"? "Wild One"????
  • Tom from Trowbridge, EnglandThey've finally posted my Artistfacts; check them out now!
  • Tom from Trowbridge, EnglandI feel sorry for you Americans; you never got to fully experience the magic of Thin Lizzy (well, neither did I cos I wasn't born yet!) Their Greatest Hits has just been released here in the UK and there are 36 songs on 2 disks so Thin Lizzy most definitely not a 1 hit wonder! I don't know if it's been released stateside. Alternatively, you can check out 'Live and Dangerous', considered the greatest live album of all time by many.
  • Helen from Dublin, IrelandWhat about 'Dancin in the Moonlight'? They're a legendary band and anyone who thinks they were a one-hit wonder know absolutely nothing. They were one of the greatest rock bands of their time and if Phil Lynott hadn't died... well, who knows? 'Whiskey in the jar' is by far their best but that's a traditional Irish song which they transformed into a rock classic. James probably thinks it's a metallica original.
  • Tom from Trowbridge, EnglandI've posted loads of artistfacts about Thin Lizzy and several other artist and song facts for other bands. But they're not being shown, do they read them or not?
  • Tom from Trowbridge, EnglandDamn right Daryl, Whiskey in the jar is definitely Thin Lizzy's best song and probably one of the best rock songs ever.
  • Daryl from Stoke, EnglandJames, Ragin' Rochester, you are wrong. Have you ever heard the song, Whiskey in the Jar?
    Obviously you haven't as you said that "the cowboy song" was the only major contribution.
    They have inspired the greatest of modern rock bands. You may need to take another hard look into rock history.

    This is wonderful song.
  • James from Ragin' Rochester, NyTheir only other major contribution was "The Cowboy song." Rodeo,Rodeo ya'all
  • Kristina from San Antonio, TxR.I.P. Phil Lynott
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