The Dropkick Murphys are one of those legendary Punk bands that have been around for decades. They formed back in Quincy, Mass, in 1996 and built up a reputation as a powerful Celtic Punk band. Their mix of traditional Irish music, Punk Rock, and Hardcore gives them a unique sound. And their live show is known to be fast, furious, and fun, especially on Saint Paddy’s Day.
Ken Casey is the only original member of the band still involved today. But this group is still chugging along, playing concerts, and writing and recording new songs. They’re also as politically active as ever, supporting worker’s rights, LGBTQ issues, injured veterans, and other movements. So, after nearly three decades and 11 albums, what are the top 45 Dropkick Murphys songs of all time? Let’s find out.
Top 45 Dropkick Murphys Songs
The Wild Rover (2001)
The Dropkick Murphys got their start playing in Boston’s bars and taverns. Their original singer, Mike McColgan, left the band after their first album was released. Since then, they’ve frequently changed their line-up. The 2001 album Sing Loud, Sing Proud saw the band swell to a 7-piece machine, with singer Al Barr at the helm.
“The Wild Rover” is a traditional song that has been around for hundreds of years and has been recorded by countless artists. When the DKM boys got their hands on it, though, they decided to make it their own.
Their version is heavy and full of energy, as expected. It’s not fast, but it features growling vocals and grinding guitars. Plus, a crowd-sourced sing-along chorus that really makes an excellent impression.
Fields of Athenry (2003)
Our next song is another powerful cover of a traditional-type song. “The Fields of Athenry” is an Irish ballad that was written in 1979 by Pete St. John.
The song tells the story of a man who is sentenced to transportation to Australia for stealing food to feed his family during the Irish Potato Famine. This song is a powerful tribute to the Irish people and their struggle for survival during one of the darkest periods in their history.
The Dropkick Murphys released their version, “Fields of Athenry,” in 2003 on their album Blackout. Their version is hard-edged and full of emotion, even if the main emotion you might hear in it is anger. This song sounds like a slow (for Punk) Rock anthem. But, the pipe playing by Spicy McHaggis brings enough of a Celtic feel to keep it sounding traditional.
The Dirty Glass (2003)
A ballad about life in the bar, this a favorite Dropkick Murphys song and features a slow, melodic opening followed by a Punk Rock jig. It was also included in 2003’s Blackout. This song has been compared to The Pogues’ famed “Fairytale of New York” as a modern-day relationship song.
The vocal duties are shared between Ken Casey and female guest vocalist Stephanie Dougherty. Her voice is clean and strong and contrasts well with the boys’ husky growling. This is a fictional duet between bar regular Murphy and bartender Darcy.
This is a sort of love song, in a way. We find lines like, “Darcy when I met you I was 5 years too young – A boy beyond his age or so I’d tell someone – Anyone who’d listen and a few who couldn’t care – Still I welcomed you with open arms – My love I did share.”
Worker’s Song (2003)
“The Worker’s Song” is an Irish rebel song that was written by Ed Pickford. The Dropkick Murphys recorded a punk-influenced version of the song, which was a part of Blackout. The song is a staple of the band’s live shows and is often performed as an encore. It has a great sing-along chorus that gets the whole crowd chanting and amps up the atmosphere.
This song is right in line with the band’s politics…
They are known to stand up for workers and veterans, both of whom are mentioned in the lyrics. This is a song about the working class and how they are the ones who die in wars and work hard while others get rich off their backs.
The lines, “We’re the first ones to starve the first ones to die – The first ones in line for that pie-in-the-sky – And always the last when the cream is shared out – For the worker is working when the fat cat’s about,” says it all. “Worker’s Song” is a classic Dropkick Murphys protest song.
“Tessie” was recorded by the Dropkick Murphys as an EP in 2004. It was also included as a bonus track on the album The Warrior’s Code. This song is another that has a long history.
Originally, this song was written by Will R. Anderson for the Broadway musical The Silver Slipper way back in 1902, if you can believe it! The song has since become a much-beloved anthem of the Boston Red Sox baseball team. The words were changed many times to support the Sox and poke fun at the other teams they were playing.
The Dropkick Murphys rewrote the lyrics as well. This time, they’re about the fans who used to sing the old version. This new song features backing vocals from Red Sox players and management and has been used as a new Sox anthem since its release. It has a slower, swinging beat and a great anthemic quality to it, making it great to sing along to.
I’m Shipping Up to Boston (2005)
This song features a fast-paced, upbeat tempo and is one of the Dropkick Murphys’ most popular songs. It was the biggest track from 2005’s The Warrior’s Code and is probably the best-known Dropkick Murphys song.
The music was written as a sort of Punk Rock reel. However, the words are a lot older than this band. They were found as unused lyrics written by legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie. These lyrics were modified by the band and put to music to make one of the top 45 Dropkick Murphys songs.
The song has a driving beat and a tin whistle riff that gives it a traditional feel. But, the heavy guitar chords add a Punk Rock edge that makes this song rock. It’s about a sailor trying to find his peg leg, so it’s both sort of comedic and sad at the same time.
The State of Massachusetts (2007)
The next DKM song on our list is “The State of Massachusetts.” This track was the first single from their sixth album, The Meanest of Times, which came out in 2007. At this point, the band’s sound had crystallized. They’ve got a Punk Rock edge and a traditional Irish sound mixed to make something new. And this song is a great example.
“The State of Massachusetts” plays up both meanings here. On the one hand, it’s the name of the state. This is mentioned in lyrics like “Her husband was violent, malicious and distant – Her kids now belong to the state of Massachusetts.”
At the same time, it’s critical of Mass, talking about the state of things there. The vocals are sung by Ken Casey and Al Barr. Their vocals are full of energy and a powerful tribute to the people of their state.
Going Out In Style featuring Fat Mike, Chris Cheney, and Lenny Clarke (2011)
The title track of the band’s 2011 album, Going Out In Style, this song is a fast-paced, Punk-influenced track with a powerful message about living life to the fullest. The track came out in 2011 and is part of the concept album, which is all about the life of a fictional character, Larkin, the band made up. And, of course, this is about his death.
“Spread my ashes all about – Dump the sucker out – Toast me for a while – I’m going out in style.” This is just a sample of the wake-inspired lyrics. The rest drop lots of references to famous figures from Boston and beyond as the song alternates between a swinging mid-tempo chant to a fast double-time rocker.
Rose Tattoo (2012)
This song is a tribute to the band’s heritage and features an energetic Punk-influenced melody. It comes from their Signed and Sealed in Blood album released in 2012. However, it was also re-recorded with vocals from none other than Bruce Springsteen as a charity fund-raising record in 2013 after the Boston Marathon bombings.
This song is slower and quieter, at least for this band. While the title might sound romantic, it was written as a tribute to Ken Casey’s grandfather, who raised him after his father died.
The guitars are less distorted here than usual, and some military-sounding drums play on the meaning of a tattoo. But, it’s the chorus – “I’ve got your name written here on a rose tattoo” – that gets you singing along and stomping your feet.
The 2017 album 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory was inspired by a mix of real-life stories. These come from the Boston Marathon Bombing victims, children in orphanages, and even wounded veterans. And the song “Blood” is likely inspired by all of these different stories.
There’s a “Rudy Can’t Fail” Clash vibe here. Especially in the chorus. But the rest of the song is a slow, throbbing Dropkick Murphys original. The guitars grind, and the pipes soar. The vocals are sung loud and strong, basically in a crowd-friendly chant.
And, the lyrics? “If you want blood, we’ll give you some – Straight from the heart till the job is done – If you want it now, then here it comes – If you want blood, we’ll give you some.” These boys aren’t playing around.
The Gang’s All Here by Dropkick Murphys
Cadence to Arms by Dropkick Murphys
Skinhead on the MBTA by Dropkick Murphys
Boys on the Docks by Dropkick Murphys
Road of the Righteous by Dropkick Murphys
Pipebomb on Lansdowne by Dropkick Murphys
The Gauntlet by Dropkick Murphys
The Torch by Dropkick Murphys
The Spicy McHaggis Jig by Dropkick Murphys
Caps and Bottles by Dropkick Murphys
Far Away Coast by Dropkick Murphys
Curse of a Fallen Soul by Dropkick Murphys
Time to Go by Dropkick Murphys
Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced by Dropkick Murphys
The Walking Dead by Dropkick Murphys
Sunshine Highway by Dropkick Murphys
Wicked Sensitive Crew by Dropkick Murphys
Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya by Dropkick Murphys
Tomorrow’s Industry by Dropkick Murphys
Shipping Up to Boston by Dropkick Murphys
Famous for Nothing by Dropkick Murphys
Flannigan’s Ball by Dropkick Murphys
God Willing by Dropkick Murphys
The Irish Rover by Dropkick Murphys
Fields of Athenry by Dropkick Murphys
Rose Tattoo by Dropkick Murphys
My Hero by Dropkick Murphys
Out of Our Heads by Dropkick Murphys
Take ‘Em Down by Dropkick Murphys
The Boys Are Back by Dropkick Murphys
Prisoner’s Song by Dropkick Murphys
Sunday Hardcore Matinee by Dropkick Murphys
The Season’s Upon Us by Dropkick Murphys
41379 by Dropkick Murphys
You’ll Never Walk Alone by Dropkick Murphys
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The Top 45 Dropkick Murphys Songs Ever – Final Thoughts
We just had a look at the top songs by the Dropkick Murphys. They span two decades of this band’s career, but things are still careening on. The Dropkick Murphys have become experts at blending Punk Rock with traditional instruments and melodies to create a very different, original sound.
This band gives you all their energy all the time. They put passion into their lyrics and music and create songs that you can sing along to when you need to let it all out. And they’re still going. That means we’ll have to wait and see what songs we might need to add to this list in the future.
Until next time, happy listening.