Tuesday, February 14, 2006

'A Yen for An Irish Lass'

Ah, the one day of the year when mankind celebrates love, in all of its variations and permutations. Happy St. Valentine's Day from all of us here at WGT. In honor of this feast, we are pleased to bring to you the lyrics of one of the most intriguing and amusing songs we've heard in years.

We first heard this song, "I Could Be in Love With Someone Like You," while listening to the weekend radio show hosted by Jonathan Schwartz, the eloquent presenter and interpreter of the very eclectic American pop music scene. The show, a fixture here in New York, is aired Saturday and Sunday, noon to 4pm ET, on WNYC-FM. "I Could Be in Love With Someone Like You" stands out for its energy, and the sheer joy, wit, and playfulness of its lyrics, and, no small thing on this blog, its many sly, knowing, and bold references to Irish history and culture.

Jason Robert Brown, a 30-something composer, wrote the song for his musical "The Last Five Years," which debuted in Chicago in 2001 and made it off-Broadway the following year, winning Drama Desk Awards for Brown for Outstanding Music and Outstanding Lyrics. The two-character production tells the story of the rise and fall of the five-year relationship of Jewish writer Jamie and his Irish Catholic wife, Kathleen, a struggling actress. Brown replaced "I Could Be I in Love" in the New York production, reputedly when Brown's ex-wife, Theresa O'Neill, threatened to sue Brown. She maintained, apparently with some basis, that the plot closely tracked their failed marriage.

You can hear a snippet of the song at Amazon.com, along with other songs on Brown's album "Wearing Someone Else's Clothes." While some might be offended by Brown's reference to An Gorta Mor, we found it merely a part of the song's fun -- irreverent but not dismissive in the least. Below are the complete lyrics, lovingly transcribed, a tribute to the immense charms of Irish lasses worldwide. (Full disclosure might be in order here: I have always found red-haired Irish women nearly irresistible. My birthfather, a Jewish New Yorker, apparently felt the same way. Relinquished for adoption as an infant, I was conceived during an otherwise ill-fated months-long affair in Manhattan between him and my birthmother, a beautiful red-haired Irish-American lass.)

Brown's dazzling lyrics are below. Enjoy! --Ger

I Could Be in Love With Someone Like You

My first crush on an Irish girl. I was 10-years old and her name was Elaine.
A little redhead girl, well, she looked like you but if you were 10,
Which you're clearly not, not that you look old … I'll just stop now.

OK wait cuz I had a point, no I swear I did, well I think I did
Which is all my life or since I was 10, I have had a yen for an Irish lass
Because God knows why like the ancient curse of the shikse queens.

Do I talk too much? Which is not to say that I want Elaine
who turned out to be when I last checked in
a Republican and a parapsychologist.

If you've got a four-leaf clover, you can make my dreams come true.
I will be your Hebrew slave, just do the things that Irish girls do.
Talk about Potato famine, I begin to cry on cue.
Sing about the Emerald Isle, and get your Irish eyes to smile
And I could be in love with someone like you.

I just left a relationship with a lovely girl named Elisa Levine.
She was really great, it was all my fault,
I just got upset cuz she slept with my brother.
So I made a vow not to get caught up in the dating scene
Or the whole routine with the cousin's friend or the who know's what.

Like I need that shit, I've got marks to make, I've got steps to climb
It's the perfect time, I've got books to write. I've got things to do.
I go out my door and bump into you.

And the jig is up and my vow is through
I don't know what I'm doing but come in and ruin me.
I will write my own "Ulysses," if you're there to show me how.

Take me back to Gloccamora, bathe me in the River Shannon now.
If you'll be Mrs. O'Leary, baby, I will be your cow.
I'll deliver shamrocks daily, buy your pa a new shillelagh.
I could be in love with someone like you.

You could be my inspiration and get me past this block.
And walk through the great unknown.
You could be my true salvation, unchain me from this rock,
And keep me from being alone cuz I'm no good at being alone.

Take me to another level, let me play at bigger halls.
I will do a "Riverdance" as long as you keep answering my calls.
Get me out of my apartment, keep me from my empty walls.

Someone hire John McCormack. Start the wearing of the green.
Let me win the Irish Sweepstakes, Let me take you home, Kathleen.
I could be in love with someone, I could be in love with someone,
I could be in love with someone … like you.
© Jason Robert Brown

Note: Richard Alba, a professor at the University of Albany in New York who specializes in immigration and assimilation, is quoted in a December 13 article in the Atlanta Jewish Times providing some interesting statistics on intermarriage. Alba states that two-thirds of Irish-Americans aged 25 to 34 marry outside the fold, while three-quarters of Italian-Americans that age marry outside the Italian community. For Polish-Americans, the rate is 80 percent. Roughly half of married American Jews in that age group, he said, are believed to be in interfaith families. See "Intermarriage Isn’t Enemy, Outreach Conference Hears" Atlanta Jewish Times, Dec. 13, 2005,

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Madeline said...

Happy St. Valentine's Day to you too. Thank you for sharing the song and personal connection.. Lovely way to start the day. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

what's the point? i married a mongolian. she has not murdered a sheep in my presence. not lately.

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it