Thin Lizzy – Roisin Dubh (Black Rose)

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“Black Rose – A Rock Legend (Roisin Dubh)” is the title track of the 1979 album by Thin Lizzy. It is both an original song and a medley incorporating traditional Irish songs and allusions from the poet William Butler Yeats to the soccer player George Best, a drinking pal of bandleader and principal songwriter Phil Lynott.

The song was inspired by Lynott’s fascination with Irish history and Celtic mythology, and ironically was to become his epitaph. Another irony is that like the founder of the Provisional IRA, the high poet of Irish rock was technically an Englishman. In its March 10, 1973 issue, New Musical Express reported that he was born in the Irish Republic, in fact Philip Parris Lynott was born in Hallam Hospital, West Bromwich near Birmingham on August 20, 1949, the illegitimate son of an Irish Catholic mother. His middle name was taken from his father, Cecil Parris. Lynott grew up in Dublin but also spent time in Manchester where his mother ran a hotel for musicians and show business types, the Clifton Grange, also known as The Showbiz or simply The Biz.

Lynott appears to have built up a big mythology about his absentee father, but after the rising star and his band were featured in the long defunct popular weekly Titbits in January 1976, Cecil Parris materialized. Father and son met the following month, but the meeting did not go well, and shattered Lynott’s illusions.

A third irony in Lynott’s life was to be the death of him; he had been lined up to play Hendrix in a biopic; Lynott bore a striking facial resemblance to the legendary guitarist. Unfortunately, that was not where the resemblance ended, and on January 4, 1986, he died in Salisbury Infirmary from septicemia and multiple organ failure, the result of his addiction to heroin. He was 36 years old. Phil Lynott was buried in Saint Fintan’s Cemetery, Sutton, Ireland, his grave engraved with the inscription:

Credit: Songfacts

Song Lyrics –

Tell me the legends of long ago
When the kings and queens would dance in the realm of the Black Rose
Play me the melodies I want to know
So I can teach my children, oh

Pray tell me the story of young Cuchulainn
How his eyes were dark his expression sullen
And how he’d fight and always won
And how they cried when he was fallen

Oh tell me the story of the Queen of this land
And how her sons died at her own hand
And how fools obey commands
Oh tell me the legends of long ago

Where the mountains of Mourne come down to the sea
Will she no come back to me
Will she no come back to me
Oh Shenandoah I hear you calling

 Far away you rolling river
Roll down the mountain side
On down on down go lassie go
Oh Tell me the legends of long ago

When the kings and queens would dance in the realms of the Black Rose
Play me the melodies so I might know
So I can tell my children, oh
My Roisin Dubh is my one and only true love

It was a joy that Joyce brought to me
While William Butler waits
And Oscar, he’s going Wilde
Ah sure, Brendan where have you Behan?

Looking for a girl with green eyes
My dark Rosaleen is my only colleen
That Georgie knows Best
But Van is the man

Starvation once again
Drinking whiskey in the jar-o
Synge’s Playboy of the Western World
As Shaw, Sean I was born and reared there

Where the Mountains of Mourne come down to the sea
Is such a long, long way from Tipperary

 Writer/s: DP, PHILIP PARRIS LYNOTT & GARY MOORE

 

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