Flogging Molly’s Dave King: My 10 Favourite Drinking Songs

Flogging Molly
Flogging Molly (Image credit: Ritchie Smyth)

Many pints of Guinness have been raised to the music of Flogging Molly, the lively Los Angeles-based band that mixes folk-punk with traditional Irish sounds. Dublin-born group leader Dave King has penned more than his fair share of pub anthems, and he says that the best drinking songs operate on a couple of levels.

“Drinking songs can get you to party and raise hell, but they can also bring out the tears,” he explains. “There should be a humanity aspect to a good drinking song, something that makes you feel like you’re not alone and that you’re bonded to other people.”

King cites the Flogging Molly song Float as an example: “There’s the line ‘Drink away the rest of the day/ I wonder what my liver’d say.’ To me, that’s not about drinking, really; it’s about emotions and hope. That’s the best thing you can sing about.”

Flogging Molly’s new album Life Is Good is released on June 2, and is available to pre-order now. The band go on tour this week, reaching the UK in late June.

Below, King discusses his 10 favourite drinking songs.

Ronnie Drew - Parting Glass

“This is a beautiful song to listen to at the end of the night. It’s wonderful and warm, and the lyrics are quite gorgeous. [Sings] ‘So fill to me the parting glass/ good night and joy be with you all.’ What a great sentiment. It’s a song that casts a glow over you in the best way.”

The Pogues - Sally MacLennane

“What’s not to like about this one? It’s a rousing, rollicking song about revelry and drinking. If you’ve never really heard a good ol’ drinking song, Sally MacLennane is a great place to start. It’s the opposite of Parting Glass, which is melancholy. This one is rowdy and bawdy. It’ll get you going, no doubt.”

The Dubliners - Seven Drunken Nights

“The Dubliners were probably the greatest folk band to come out of Ireland. Seven Drunken Nights is a classic old tune about a man who comes home within the period of a week to discover that his wife has hidden another fellow beside her in bed. I heard it for the first time as a kid, and I always enjoyed listening to it find out what would happen at the end.”

The Dubliners - Biddy Mulligan

“This is a good one. It was one of my mother’s favourite drinking songs. It’s about a woman who was barred from every pub she’s even gone into, and that kind of describes my mother. [Laughs] Oh, she was a bit of a hell-raiser. Obviously, the song means a lot to me now – my mother passed away a year ago. When I hear it, it reminds me of her.”

Christy Moore - Delirium Tremens

“Christy Moore is a well-known Irish folk artist, and this song is one of his best. It’s about waking up with the worst hangover and seeing a world that’s gone fucking crazy. The humour in it is just ridiculous. As an Irishman, it really hits home, although I’m not sure if it travels well. Funnily enough, Christy is a famous non-drinker right now.”

Leonard Cohen - Bird on the Wire

“This might be a bit of an outsider, but I have to put it in. It reminds me of Christmas mass at midnight, how the drunks would go from the pub to church and they’d start singing hymns. I can imagine having a whiskey and listening to it. Leonard Cohen was one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met. My wife and I were so lucky to have spent some time with him.”

The Pogues - The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn

“The Pogues again – they’ve got so many fantastic drinking songs. The song is about Cuchulainn, who is a mythological Irish hero, but the song also mentions the manager of the Pogues, Frank Murray, who was a great friend of mine. The song takes off like a freight train and it just goes from there. It’s fucking brilliant.”

Flogging Molly - Drunken Lullabies

“I love performing this song. The second the banjo riff comes in, people just lose their minds. But what’s really special about it is, when you read the lyrics you realise that it’s not just about drinking. It’s about the problems that were happening in Ireland when I was growing up. Things are getting much better, which I’m glad about. We’re not just talking about problems; we’re doing something about them.”

The Mighty Stef - The Mero

“I love this version of the song. Donnie Drew is on it, and you’ve also got me and Bridget Regan from Flogging Molly. We all recorded it in one day. Ronnie Drew passed away shortly after we did it – it might be the last recoding he ever did. He was such an influence on me. To be able to sing a song about Dublin with him was really special.”

The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem - Boulavogue

“I live a few miles from Boulavogue in Ireland. The song is about a priest named Father Murphy, who was part of the rebellion. As an Irishman, this song just breaks my heart. It really sets the tone about what people were going through to get their freedom. It’s not so much a drinking song, but when I have a few drinks in me, it’s what I want to hear.”

Flogging Molly Tour Dates

May 04: Fox Theater, Oakland, CA
May 05: Roseland Theater, Portland, OR
May 06: Showbox Sodo, Seattle, WA
May 07: Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, Canada
May 09: The Knitting Factory, Spokane, WA
May 10: The Knitting Factory, Boise, ID
May 12: The Complex, Salt Lake City, UT
May 13: Fillmore Auditorium, Denver, CO
May 14: Sokol Auditorium, Omaha, NE
May 16: Palace Theatre, St. Paul, MN
May 18: Hard Rock Rocksino, Northfield, OH
May 19: Morgantown Amphitheatre, Morgantown, WV
May 20: The Fillmore Silver Spring, Silver Spring, MD
May 21: College Street Music Hall, New Haven, CT
May 23: Irving Plaza, New York, NY
May 24: Irving Plaza, New York, NY
May 26: House of Blues, Boston, MA
May 27: State Theatre, Portland, ME
May 28: Metropolis, Montréal, Canada
May 30: The Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, Canada
Jun 01: 20 Monroe Live, Grand Rapids, MI
Jun 02: Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL
Jun 03: The Fillmore Detroit, Detroit, MI
Jun 16: Grona Lund, Stockholm, Sweden
Jun 17: Komos Festival, Copenhagen, Denmark
Jun 20: Majestic Music Club, Bratislava, Slovakia
Jun 21: IN Music Festival, Zagreb, Croatia
Jun 23: Hurricane Festival, Scheessel, Germany
Jun 24: Southside Festival, Neuhausen Ob Eck, Germany
Jun 25: Artefact Festival, Strasbourg, France
Jun 27: O2 Ritz Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
Jun 28: O2 Institute Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Jun 29: O2 Forum Kentish Town, London, United Kingdom
Jul 01: Mission Ready Festival, Wurzburg, Germany
Jul 02: Rockwave Festival, Athens, Greece
Jul 04: Le Bataclan, Paris, France
Jul 05: Les Docks, Lausanne, Switzerland
Jul 08: Parkcity Live Festival, Heerlen, Netherlands
Jul 10: Volkshaus, Zurich, Switzerland
Jul 11: Carroponte Spazio Mil w/ Dropkick Murphy’s, Sesto San Giovanni, Italy
Jul 12: Ex-Convento dell’Annunziata Sestri Levante, Genoa, Italy
Jul 14: Dresden Open Air w/ Broilers, Dresden, Germany
Jul 15: Berlin Open Air w/ Broilers, Berlin, Germany
Aug 26: Parken w/ Volbeat, Copenhagen, Denmark
Aug 30: Stockhorn Arena w/ Volbeat, Thun, Switzerland
Sep 01: Messe Graz w/ Volbeat, Graz, Austria
Sep 03: Willy Sachs Stadion w/ Volbeat, Schweinfurt, Germany
Sep 05: Strijp-S w/ Volbeat, Eindhoven, Netherlands

Classic Rock Quiz: Drinking Songs

Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.