The Untold Truth Of Dropkick Murphys

You probably know that the Dropkick Murphys had their first gig at Boston's beloved, but now defunct, club, The Rat. And that their big break came from touring with other Boston darlings The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. And that their Boston St. Patrick's Day shows (via CBS Boston) are the stuff of legend and tradition. But if you dig a bit deeper, there's still plenty to learn about the Celtic punk band with the thick Southie accent.

For example, do you know which band they still dream of opening for? In a recent interview, bassist and founding member Ken Casey told SPIN magazine that "getting to open for AC/DC, that would be the final frontier for us. That would be epic. The crowd probably wouldn't like us because AC/DC is one of those bands you're going to AC/DC, you want to see AC/DC. We can set ourselves on fire and walk off into the sunset if we open for them."

Even COVID can't stop the Celtic punk rock

The band has been coping with the pandemic by livestreaming some truly epic shows (posted at YouTube), and writing and recording a new record, Turn Up That Dial, due out April 30. Casey also told SPIN, "I mean... well, nothing excites you like new music and being in a nine-month musical bubble where the world shuts down. We wanted this to just be fun and about music," he said. 

But as much fun as the Dropkicks had while doing what they do best, they couldn't entirely escape from the omnipresent sadness evident in so many of their songs. In that same interview, Casey added, "I mean actually the last song, 'Wish You Were Here' (also on YouTube) is sad and sentimental. It's actually about [lead singer Al Barr], losing his dad. For the general public listening to it, it does definitely make you think, 'Man, all the people that we lost this year.' That's the end of the album kind of looking back. The first 10 songs are really supposed to be just having fun and get your mind off stuff."

They (probably!) helped break an old curse

Anyone who was a Boston Red Sox fan between 1919 and 2003 can tell you: it was rough. The 84-year World Series Championship drought was often blamed on "The Curse of the Bambino;" per, baseball superstar Babe Ruth led the Red Sox to three World Series, the last in 1918. Ruth was traded to the New York Yankees after a lackluster 1919 season, and the Sox didn't win again until 2004.

1918 was also the last year that Sox rowdy super fans The Royal Rooters sang the song "Tessie" at one of their games, according to Dirty Water Media. "Tessie" was a song from an old musical, and was about "a woman serenading her parakeet who is named Tessie." (Hang on. This is relevant.) The song had become a tradition for the Royal Rooters to sing, but when the Rooters disbanded, Tessie seems to have left, too...

The Summoning of Tessie

Then in 2004, loyal Red Sox fans and Boston poster boys The Dropkick Murphys decided to revive the spirit of "Tessie" with new lyrics and their own Celtic punk spin. In the Murphys' liner notes for "Tessie" on their 2005 record The Warrior's Code, they wrote, "We recorded this song in June 2004 and after giving it to the Red Sox told anyone that would listen that this song would guarantee a World Series victory. Obviously no one listened to us or took us seriously. We were three outs away from elimination in game 4 at the hands of the Yankees and receiving death threats from friends, family, & strangers telling us to stay away from the Red Sox and any other Boston sports team and get out of town. Luckily for us things turned around for the Red Sox and the rest is history." 

Indeed, the Dirt Dogs' incarnation of the Red Sox went on to win the 2004 World Series. Hey, the re-imagined song definitely didn't hurt.

'Who's Got Beef!'

Lead singer Al Barr attacked the Dropkick Murphys' hero, The Pogues' Shane MacGowan... Almost. Barr told Classic Rock that they'd met MacGowan when he sang on the Murphys' 2000 record, Sing Loud, Sing Proud. "At the recording session, Ken [Casey, the bass player] would have to literally rip the cigarette out of Shane's mouth, and he would spit out the words," Barr said. "And we had to get him weed. That was his one thing. I had some connections in the city at the time and made sure that was delivered."

Sounds friendly enough. But a couple of years later, the Dropkicks were playing a music festival in London, as were The Pogues, who MacGowan had recently rejoined. Later, after several hours of drinking, Barr recalled, "As we were coming into the hotel, Shane was in the bar with his girlfriend, and he waved us over and we sat down. I don't remember what happened, but I'm told I tore my shirt off and said: 'Who's got beef!' And I went over the table at him, and this friend of ours threw me over his shoulders and took me to bed. Ken was like: 'I almost wanted you to hit Shane. But I was worried you were also going to hit his girlfriend...'" Barr eventually made the good judgment call to quit drinking.

Ken Casey: Nazi Puncher

It shouldn't need to be said about a band who regularly demonstrates their love of and compassion for humanity, specifically by putting their money where their mouths are via their humanitarian work with the Claddagh Fund and elsewhere, but here we are: the Dropkick Murphys are part of a long line of people decidedly not tolerating white supremacists, as Vice reports.

In 2013, the Dropkicks played at venue Terminal 5 in New York City in the days leading up to St. Patrick's Day (essentially Christmas and Easter combined for the band and their fans). Via an archived article at Gawker, the band was at the point in their show where they invite fans up on stage to dance and belt out their songs alongside them.

Per usual, the stage was packed. During their cover of AC/DC's "T.N.T.," one guy on stage started doing the pro-Hitler salute. When singer and bassist (and founding member) Ken Casey saw what was happening, he wasted no time and strode right over, whipped his bass off, and tackled the jerk. Per the original piece, "About 30 seconds later Ken emerged from the pileup with his shirt torn and made his way back to the front of the stage. He strapped on his bass and said into the microphone 'Nazis are NOT [EXPLETIVE] WELCOME at a Dropkick Murphys show.'" You can watch the righteous beatdown on YouTube.