Thin Lizzy – “Vagabonds of the Western World” and “The Hero and the Madman”

Photo credit:

It’s not a secret that I am a huge fan of the Irish rock band, “Thin Lizzy.” The band had an influence on many bands with their twin guitars, bass playing & not to ignore Brian Downey’s great drumming rhythm back in the 70’s and early 80’s. I have so many favorite songs of theirs but just wish I could have had the opportunity to see them in concert before the 1986 death of Phil Lynott.  “Vagabonds of the Western World,” and “The Hero and the Madman” are two of my favorite songs many favorite songs by TL.  Both songs allow you to truly hear and appreciate the guitar riffs of original band member and guitar icon, Eric Bell.  Both Phil Lynott and Eric Bell have stated in interviews that it was Eric who thought of the name “Thin Lizzy” when they were brainstorming, trying to come up with a catchy name for their band. Eric got the name from a cartoon character by Jack Prout, called “The Dandy Tin Lizzie.” They all laughed because Bell stated it would be funny listening to the Irish try to pronounce it because they won’t pronounce it with a (Th), they will leave out the H sound and just pronounce it with the T.

I absolutely love the guitar riffs in which Bell shows off his talents as one of the greatest guitar players in the business.  Jim Fitzpatrick has done an amazing job on album covers for the band, as well as incredible paintings of Phil Lynott.  I have included both songs below. “The Hero and the Madman” is a story telling song written by Phil Lynott. The music industry tried talking him out of it due to the length of the song, but Lynott wouldn’t budge and the band recorded the song anyway.

Vagabonds of the Western World” is the third studio album by Irish hard rock band Thin Lizzy, released in 1973. It was the band’s last album with original guitarist Eric Bell and the first to feature the artwork of Jim Fitzpatrick, whose work would appear on many subsequent albums by the band.

Eduardo Rivadavia of AllMusic described the album as “brimming with attitude and dangerous swagger,” and Thin Lizzy’s “first sonically satisfying album,” with “The Rocker” their “first bona fide classic”. He described “Little Girl in Bloom” as “absolutely flawless,” but criticized “The Hero and the Madman” and “Slow Blues” as “overblown” and “tepid” respectively. Pitchfork reviewer Stuart Berman remarked how Thin Lizzy were “starting to kick out the jams with greater confidence and consistency” on this album, with Lynott producing “the sound of a spiritually adrift musician ecstatically discovering his true calling.” Canadian journalist Martin Popoff remarked the album’s “crusty sound quality and style-searching waywardness”, mixing influences ranging from American blues, to Motown, to early metal. He rated Vagabonds of the Western World the lowest of all Thin Lizzy’s albums for four tracks which “seem either simple and out-of-character or dated”, “bearing scant few traces of the high class Lizzy imprint.”



Song Lyrics – 

 I could tell you the story of a vagabond
 A playboy of the western world
 One day by chance he came upon
A fair young maid, a country girl

He told her that he loved her
And he took all of her silver
He told her that he needed her too
He said hey baby, you got eyes of blue
But he was a vagabond

Blue eyes, oh baby blue, oh blue eyes
The kind of eyes that say I do eyes
Oh baby blue, oh blue eyes
Oh baby blue, oh blue eyes

He roamed around the cities
Searching for his fortune and fame
No lady ever got to know his name
Shame, but that was his game

Gave a girl a baby boy
He said this child is my pride and joy
I’m busy running wild and free
Make sure he grows up like me
And I’m a vagabond

Blue eyes, oh baby blue, oh blue eyes
The kind of eyes that say I do eyes
Oh baby blue, oh blue eyes
Oh baby blue, oh blue eyes

Oh I could tell you a story of a vagabond
He was a playboy of the western world
He wore an earring in his left ear
You see his father he was a gypsy

You just might meet him upon the highway
Pretty fine dancer too
But he’s leave you blue, he’d leave
He’d leave you woman



Song Lyrics –

The hero he rode a white horse
Across the desert to where his woman was
He’d been riding for four days
When he saw the tower where she was locked
In the moonlight he left his old steed
Near the drawbridge that he crossed
And by way of a rope ladder
He tip-toed to where his woman was
If I recall you’re the actor
Who followed the stars
Searching for
The lost city of Mars
Hoping time would heal the scars
Knowing fate held no bars
Are you the one
That I think you are?
Are you the hero or are you the madman?
The madman climbed
The steeple spire
“Go higher” said the crowd
From down below
“But, the world’s on fire” cried the madman
From the steeple spire
“You’re a liar” cried the crown
From down below
The madman climbed the steeple spire
And let a crystal ball tear
Fall on the crown
From down below
If I recall you’re the actor
Who took to the stage
Set the world ablaze
With your anger and your rage
With every new leaf
You turned and wrote a new page
Cleverly concealing
Your real age
Those that knew you
Were always quite amazed
Are you the one
Who can take this praise?
Are you the hero or are you the madman?
“You’re the only one”
“Who can save us”
Said the wizard
“Or all is lost”



2 thoughts on “Thin Lizzy – “Vagabonds of the Western World” and “The Hero and the Madman”

  1. You a fan of Thin Lizzy? No…I don’t believe it! lol… Great songs. I can hear Phil sing about anything and like it…My favorite is probably The Cowboy Song. It’s the way he phrases things…I just wish he was still around.