If only Foley's bar had kept their "Danny Boy" ban in place - the only Irish bar in the world where we were safe from hearing it sung by drunks.
Foley's Bar, Manhattan, won worldwide headlines in 2008 when they banned the song, calling it too maudlin. The reintroduction came in 2010 when a new whiskey called "Danny Boy" was launched at the venue on Manhattan's West Side. I'm sure it was an occasion of sin for every "Danny Boy" warbler between here and Muttontown Long Island to give it a good wail.
It's not that I don't like "Danny Boy." In the hands of the late Frank Patterson it was a beautiful moving air, a fabulous love song between a father and a son which could bring tears to the eyes.
It is just there is no song on earth that can be sung as badly as "Danny Boy." Like the "Star Spangled Banner," it has high notes that invite the kind of screeching that usually occurs only when your brakes fail at high speed.
The other problem is that other drunks invariably join in at that high point, making it like a male cats convention at the moment the only female in town is introduced and the brawl begins.
Even if you shut your ears to that, there is worse to come – the dreaded "Erin go Bawl" moment, when the singer breaks down and begins blubbering like a two-year-old with a wet diaper. The other drunks immediately find their emotions getting the worst of them and a sea of tears ensues. However, no one stops singing and the effect is like a coyote convention on full moon night.
Also to be avoided at all costs, is the "designated Danny Boy singer." Every group has one, the person who after the required magic potions is asked to step up to the plate. After much protesting and throat clearing, he manfully launches into the task. Woe betide anyone who asks for a drink or lets a cell phone go off while Caruso is killing his number. Fights are known to breakout when the Great One is interrupted.
The moral of the story is to approach "Danny Boy" with care, either as singer or listener. Avoid if at all possible if in the company of good cheer on St. Patrick's Day. Stick with the Teletubbies theme song instead. Its got no high notes, only one line "Teletubbies" and everyone knows the words . . . errr . . . word.
Even The Muppets, though their rendition of the song is hilarious, prove the song should sometimes come with a health warning!
* Originally published March 2010.