Tune of the Day: Finnegan's Wake
The ballad “Finnegan's Wake” arose in the 1850s in the music-hall tradition of comical Irish songs. The song has become a staple of The Dubliners, who have played it on many occasions and included it on several albums, and is especially well-known to fans of The Clancy Brothers, who have performed and recorded it with Tommy Makem. More recently, the song has also been recorded by Irish-American Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys.
In the ballad, the hod-carrier Tim Finnegan, born “with a love for the liquor”, falls from a ladder and is thought to be dead. The mourners at his wake become rowdy, and spill whiskey over Finnegan's corpse, causing him to come back to life and join in in the celebrations.
This wordy song encouraged novelist James Joyce to give one of his novels the same title. Well, almost the same: Joyce removed the apostrophe in the title of his novel in order to suggest a process in which a multiplicity of “Finnegans”, that is, all members of humanity, fall and then wake and arise.