About a decade or so ago – probably more – I came across a blog post counting down the Top 100 Drinking Songs of All Time (or so it claimed). There were a lot of songs I recognized. Another online essay I had read and enjoyed recommended that anyone worthy of the name Drunkard should know – be able to sing all the way through, that is – at least one classic drinking song.
So, having (at the time) just acquired a computer with a CD burner, I thought it would be cool to download a bunch of those tunes wherever I could get them, and make a CD or two of “Classic Drinking Songs”. Well, I started collecting them. My guidelines were 1) Original artists where at all possible, and b) no more than one song per artist. I wound up with over seventy before I cried “Enough already!”
Then I discovered that you could make playlists on YouTube. I said to myself, “Self, why don’t you make a playlist on YouTube of these Classic Drinking Songs so you can share the fun with other people??
So I did.
I added a few more restrictions. In addition to the two mentioned above, I decided that because YouTube is for videos, I should use actual live performances with the original (or at least best known) artist if at all possible. Official music videos would be great. There are a handful where this wasn’t possible, but I felt I couldn’t NOT include the song.
You’ll find a LOT of country and blues/R&B – those genres somehow seem made for drinking songs. There’s also some jazz (in several varieties) and even some opera. There are songs from around the world – France, Germany, Ireland, and Australia show up. I’ve tossed in a few commercial jingles just for fun (they don’t make jingles like they used to – it costs too much to create new music….), too. I expect that you’ll want to know why I didn’t include a certain song. I left out a lot – “Quiet Whiskey”, “Sorrow on the Rocks”, “Who Threw the Whiskey in the Well” – I had to stop somewhere! Well, there’s nothing stopping you from making your own list.
Here’s the playlist. I suggest listening to them in order; at least for the first few and last few.
1. “Here Comes a Regular” – Paul Westerberg
The lead singer of The Replacements makes the song even more melancholy by doing it solo.
2. “Beer Barrel Polka” / “Roll Out The Barrel” – The Andrews Sisters
Enough melancholy; let’s get the keg party going!
3. “Bad, Bad Whiskey” – Amos Milburn
From a “concert” film sometime in the 1950s.
4. “Little Ole Wine Drinker Me “ – Dean Martin
The uploader took a clip from a TV appearance, and dubbed in a recording of the song – that’s why it looks weird.
5. “White Lightning” – George Jones
He might be lip synching it, but it’s his song, so….
6. “Drunken Barrelhouse Blues” – Lizzie “Memphis Minnie” Douglas
One of the greatest blues guitarists ever, regardless of gender.
7. “Streams Of Whiskey” – The Pogues
8. “Here Comes the King” – Budweiser
One of the greatest advertising jingles.
9. “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’” – Loretta Lynn
10. “Pop a Top” – Jim Ed Brown
11. “I Like Beer” – Tom T. Hall
12. “In Heaven There Is No Beer” – Frankie Yankovic
How can anyone leave this off a list of Great Drinking Songs?
13. “There Stands the Glass” – Webb Pierce
14. “Intoxicated Man” – Serge Gainsbourg
From France’s answer to Mick Jagger. An indie film short that perfectly captures the mood of the song.
15. “Libiamo, ne’ lieti calici” – Giuseppi Verdi, La Traviata
Performed by the Metropolitan Opera, with subtitles.
16. “One Beer to Have” – Schaefer
A cool jazz version of their jingle.
17. “Misery And Gin” – Merle Haggard
18. “Good Old Mountain Dew” – Louis “Grandpa” Jones
19. “Whiskey Heaven” – Frankie Ford
Fats Domino had the original, but I couldn’t find a good video of him performing the complete song. I couldn’t leave it off the list, though. Ford’s no slouch at the piano, and check out the sax solo!
20. “Chug-a-Lug” – Roger Miller
From a 1977 TV special, with host John Denver and Glenn Campbell.
21. “All That Wine Is Gone” – Big Jay McNeely
22. ”Rheingold the Dry Beer” – Rheingold
Fun stop-motion animation, but nary a Miss Rheingold in sight.
23. “The Stein Song” – Rudy Vallee
The official song of the University of Maine (and I maintain it’s the only official school song that is also a drinking song). Before there was karaoke, we followed the bouncing ball…..
24. “Whisky River” – Johnny Bush
25. “It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere” – Alan Jackson
With a guest appearance from Jimmy Buffett.
26. “Drinking Again“ – Dinah Washington
27. “What’s Made Milwaukee Famous” – Jerry Lee Lewis
28. “Cocktails for Two” – Spike Jones and his City Slickers
Music videos predated MTV, you know…..
29. “Two More Bottles Of Wine” – Delbert McClinton
With Martina McBride, from her 1996 TV special.
30. “Gimmie A Pigfoot” – Bessie Smith
31. “Vivat Bacchus!” – Mozart, The Abduction in the Seraglio
With Kurt Rydl (Osmin) and Michael Smallwood (Pedrillo).
32. “Drink! Drink! Drink!” – Sigmund Romberg, The Student Prince
From a 1954 movie of the operetta, Edmond Purdom lip synchs Mario Lanza.
33. “Rum and Coca-Cola” – Lord Invader
The original; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
34. “La Bière” – Jacques Brel
Rough translation: “It smells of beer / From London to Berlin. / It smells of beer, / God, it is good.”
35. “Scotchin’ With The Soda” – Nat King Cole
36. “A Pub With No Beer” – Slim Dusty
From somewhere in the Outback, presumably.
37. “Hey Mabel, Black Label!” – Carling Black Label Beer
38. “Im Feuerstrom der Reben” – Johann Strauss Jr., Die Fledermaus
An ode to champagne, performed in 2019 by the Vienna State Opera. There are English subtitles….
39. “Champagne Charlie” – Tommy Trinder
The title tune from a 1944 UK movie.
40. “In München Steht Ein Hofbräuhaus” – Marianne & Michael
Arguably the only “drinking song” about a real bar.
41. “Tiny Bubbles” – Don Ho
Who says a drinking song can’t be romantic?
42. “Show Me The Way To Go Home” – Frank Crumit
I think this is the original; I have yet to find an older version.
43. “Parting Glass” – The Clancy Brothers & Robbie O’Connell
Sorry about the credits at the end – I have yet to find as good a performance that doesn’t have them.
44. “One For My Baby (and One More For The Road)” – Frank Sinatra
I have no idea where this is from – but it’s the perfect song (and performance) to bring this playlist to a close.