(Editor’s note: I moved from an apartment into a house starting January 1st, 2020, and I had to toss all my CDs into a big garbage bag during the move. The idea for this feature is I write a review about each CD as I unpack that bag, one CD at a time, and rank them.)
The Thirteenth CD Out of the Bag
1. Drunken Lullabies; 2. What’s Left of the Flag; 3. May the Living be Dead (In Our Wake); 4. If I Ever Leave This World Alive; 5. The Kilburn High Road; 6. Rebels of the Sacred Heart; 7. Swagger; 8. Cruel Mistress; 9. Death Valley Queen; 10. Another Bag of Bricks; 11. Rare Oul’ Times; 12. The Son Never Shines (On Closed Doors).
From the explosive opening of the title track about humanity’s failures to learn the lessons of our violent past to the final song’s mantra that “we all go the same way home,” Drunken Lullabies is a powerhouse Celtic rock album released in 2002. Irish-American band Flogging Molly blends revolution, religious persecution, regret, rage, and nostalgia into its songs while paying respects to ghosts of the past. The second track, “What’s Left of the Flag,” is an angry rant about the loss of life in a war for freedom. I always want to rise and raise my fist when the song pauses and Dave King sings, “Then the rosary beads, count them one-two-three, fell apart as they hit the floor. In a garb of black, we must pay respect to the color we’re born to mourn.” Halfway into the album, “Rebels of the Sacred Heart” inspires with the same freedom-loving fervor as again the song pauses and King sings, “No ball or chain, no prison to keep, we’re the rebels of the Sacred Heart.” There’s a vein of punk-rock passion running through Drunken Lullabies, but Flogging Molly elevates the album beyond its unique musical style by delivering substantive lyrics with a fierceness of purpose.
My favorite song
Not just a favorite on the album but an all-time favorite of mine, “If I Ever Leave This World Alive” is a gorgeous ballad about dying with an emotional opening verse. “If I ever leave this world alive, I’ll thank you for the things you did in my life. If I ever leave this world alive, I’ll come back down and sit beside your feet tonight. Wherever I am, you’ll always be more than just a memory.” Tinged with sadness, the song finishes in a comforting flourish by repeating the lines, “She says I’m okay, I’m all right, though you have gone from my life.” Just a beautiful song with a hopeful message for the lonely people left behind and perhaps for the lingering spirits of the dead as well.
My favorite lines of my favorite song
If I ever leave this world alive,
I’ll take on all the sadness that I left behind.