Wasn’t That a Party

IRISH SONGS – IN HONOUR OF ST. PATRICK’S DAY

8. WASN’T THAT A PARTY – 1980, written by Tom Paxton

Image result for Irish Party graphicsIn the 1980’s The Irish Rovers briefly renamed themselves The Rovers and had enormous success with this single. The subject matter is neither Irish nor nostalgic, but it had large cross-over success in the Country Rock genre.

The Irish Rovers had formed in 1963 and named themselves after the traditional Irish
folk song, The Irish Rover. The signature sound of the band is the accordion, pipes and guitar. All but one of the band members were from Ireland, the last hailing from Scotland. Before the family emigrated to Canada, founding band members had performed in Ireland as “The Millar Kids”.

Meeting other musicians of Irish descent and immigration in Toronto, the band quickly formed in the early 60’s and were received well playing in various folk song festivals, Image result for Wasn't that a Party 1980clubs and hootenanys. At one point they became regulars at Calgary’s Depression Coffee House, a well-known folk club that had contributed to the start of Joni Mitchel’s career.

In 1966 they headed for California and recorded their first album. While recording their second album in 1968, Canadian folk singer/songwriter Glen Campbell suggested Shel Silverstien’s 1962 folk song The Unicorn Song. Glen Campbell actually played guitar on their original recording. Also in 1968, the Irish Rovers were named Band of the Year at the JUNO Awards.

By the 1980’s after performing literally for decades hosting their own television shows, the band’s sound had evolved away from traditional Irish and well into the Country Rock genre, which accounts for the large success of Wasn’t That a Party. It was written by Tom Paxton, who was already an award-winning fixture of this genre. In 1968 Paxton had licensed his song, My Dog’s Bigger Than Your Dog to the makers of Ken-L Rations Dog Food for use in a television commercial.

Image result for Tom Paxton John Denver
Tom Paxton during a celebration event honouring John Denver

 During his career Paxton travelled in circles with the likes of Woody Guthrie, John Denver and Pete Seeger. John Denver recorded one of Paxton’s songs, Whose Garden Was This in 1970. Paxton was highly regarded as an important writer of songs with both environmental and social topics, highlighting such issues as the plight of anti-aparthied activists; the effects of energy production and consumption on the environment; and the as-yet-not-socially-acceptable topic of mental health – depression in particular, after a friend took his own life. However, it’s been suggested that Wasn’t That a Party is a light-hearted reference to “conditions that arise” after stage performances. *Can be found on “At the Pub: A Celtic Celebration”. 

Wasnt That A Party

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My Nod to St. Patrick’s Day

 Well, Aloha to Saint Paddy, he sure was a brute of a legendary figure, wasn’t he?

During the day the ukulele group played at the Grace United Church for their Irish Stew Supper fundraiser, I heard a couple of stories about St. Patrick. One was that he was enslaved by the Irish nation, and that upon his freedom having become a Christian missionary, he actually returned to the country of his abuse as a Bishop. Til his dying day, I hear.

Extra, extra, read all about it, here: Saint Patrick

In the meantime, we had a couple of places that we played out for St. Patrick’s Day and for one place we needed some extra songs so I sent this one out to the group. Canadian Irish Folk Group, The Irish Rovers, were formed in 1963 and named after the popular Irish song, The Irish Rover. They are best known for their international tv series, popularizing Irish music in North America, The Unicorn Song (written by Shel Silverstein) and Wasn’t That a Party. All of the band members are from Ireland, half of whom now live in Canada. The Irish Rovers have represented Canada at five World Expos.

In 1980 the group re-named themselves “The Rovers” and found success with the chart-topping song, Wasn’t That a Party. But by 1989 they had reverted back to their famous original name, The Irish Rovers. As a high-school student, nothing was cooler than this song, except for maybe I Wear My Sunglasses at Night…..

WASN’T THAT A PARTY

CHORUS:

[C] Could’ve been the whiskey, might’ve been the gin.

Could’ve been the three or four six-packs, I don’t know

But [C7] look at the mess I’m in: my head is like a [F] football,

I think I’m gonna [C] die! Tell me, [G] me oh, me oh my! [STOP]

Wasn’t that a [C] party?

.

[C] Someone took a grapefruit, wore it like a hat.

I saw someone under my kitchen table

[C7] Talking to my old tom cat – they were talking ‘bout [F] hockey –

The cat was talking [C] back!!!

Long about [G] then every-thing went black! [STOP]         

Wasn’t that a [C] party?

CHORUS

BRIDGE:           

[C] I’m sure it’s just my [F] memory

Playing tricks on [C] me

But I [D] think I saw my buddy

Cutting [G] down my neighbour’s tree! [STOP]

CHORUS

2nd BRIDGE:

Billy Joe and [F] Tommy

Well they went a little [C] far

They were [D] sitting in the back yard, blowing on a sireen

From [G] somebody’s police car

So you see, Your [C] Honour, it was all in fun

That little bittie drag meet down on Main Street

Was just to [C7] see if the cops could run

So they run us in to [F] see you, in an alcoholic [C] haze

I sure can [G] use those thirty days [STOP]        To re-cover from the [C] party!

CHORUS

ENDING:  Wasn’t that a party? Wasn’t that a [C(4)] party?    F(4)   G7(4)   C(1)