It’s hard to talk about rock, especially Irish rock and roll, without mentioning Thin Lizzy. This iconic band has been around since the late 1960s, and their discography is impressive, to say the least, but what are the top ten best Thin Lizzy songs of all time? Come along on a musical journey that spans decades and check out everything from the classics to their latest. While every Thin Lizzy song is well worth the listen, these are the not-to-be-missed hits of this incredible and sadly underrated musical phenomenon.
10. The Rocker
Frontman Phil Lynott’s career and passing are their own sad story. Yet, the power and passion he brought to the stage and the studio will forever stand out in every song he sang. Number ten on our list is The Rocker. Everything about this song is Phil and Thin Lizzy. If you are looking for a song that embodies the bad boy image of rock, this is it, and Phil was the rocker. Lynott died from heart failure brought on by septicemia, but that doesn’t quite explain how much of a ‘rocker’ he was at his core. A more accurate and simple explanation is that he died of a heroin overdose. That is exactly what you might expect from “The Rocker.” More importantly, you probably got that bad boy of rock image from Phil’s life story and this song, whether you knew it or not. Like Thin Lizzy’s discography, the story of his life is a part of the history and culture of rock and roll as we know it today.
9. Whiskey In The Jar
Anyone who has ever listened to Irish music or folk, or modern recognizes Whiskey in the Jar. Thin Lizzy’s version does not disappoint. However, on the list of great songs from this band, it is only number nine. Not only did TL produce more memorable original songs, but they also remade another folk song that made our top three.
8. Killer On The Loose
An absolute riot of a song about the worst sort of bad boy any rock-hating mother could imagine had to make this list. Killer on the Loose is a threat, and a seduction played out on the stage. Girls swooned for it, and parents feared it might be true. Any song that can evoke that visceral reaction deserves to make the top ten.
7. Little Darling
From the album Buffalo Gal, Little Darling was another fantastic musical masterpiece about the life of a bad-boy rocker. There’s longing and a little regret, but mostly Little Darling is a fond farewell to women the band left behind. Doubtless, there are droves who feel a truly personal connection as they loved and lost their own rockers to the siren song of the road. On the other side of that coin, any musician who has ever gone on tour knows the ‘feels’ of this tune.
The final song on side one of Bad Reputation had to really leave you feeling the music. Southbound did not disappoint. Several songs from Thin Lizzy have a distinctly cowboy-esque, western influence. Southbound is about chasing your dreams away from the desolation that came before you realized them.
5. The Boys Are Back In Town
Giving this song a spot in the center of the list is almost a crime. As music goes, this is one of those songs that is youth to at least one entire generation. The only reason it didn’t rank higher is that Thin Lizzy produced so many truly incredible songs that it’s difficult to rank them. Had they produced fewer hits, this would easily be number one, or at least in the top three. Classic rock fans could rank The Boys Are Back In Town on any hitlist ever.
Songs for rebels could be the name of a documentary about Thin Lizzy, and this would be the opening theme. Renegade is about a man who has fallen far from where he started, yet he hasn’t lost his fighting spirit. When you need a playlist about holding on to the passion of what was while recognizing the mistakes that made you who you are, start and end with Renegade.
You know Jailbreak, even if you’re not sure, you have probably heard this song a hundred times. Jailbreak song was popular worldwide. It still plays on classic rock radio daily. The opening riff is so well known that you don’t even need the name of the song to recognize it. While it wasn’t the best thing they ever wrote for vocals, it is one of the most musically recognizable songs ever made. If we were scoring on memorability alone, Jailbreak would be number one. Before there were songs of angry rebellion like ‘Let The Bodies Hit The Floor,’ we all knew that tonight there was going to be a jailbreak, somewhere in this town. For those who somehow missed this song, you need to hear it to understand the roots of modern angry rebel rock.
2. Wild One
If The Rocker is about Phil Lynott, then Wild One could just as easily be about all the loves he ever left behind. In its own way, this song is also about bad boys of rock, but it has its roots in Irish folk music. Whiskey in the Jar may be better known, especially since Metallica also did a version, but Thin Lizzy’s Wild One is easily in the same genre-bending class as that rock remake. Moreover, TL really made this song their own.
Arguably the most popular of all Thin Lizzy’s songs, Dublin holds a place in the hearts of many people spanning decades of music lovers. This song is as much about losing your love and moving on as it is about getting away from the places that hold you down. Short, sweet, and simple, yet unutterably powerful, the lyrics to Dublin come from a heartbreak many of us can relate to. Like a bad relationship, being stuck in a place you don’t want to stay can beat you down. The things, places, and people you love most can hold you in a way that nothing else quite compares to. Sadly, that hold is often so destructive that even leaving it behind is bittersweet. Dublin is a slice of Irish life, a song about breaking ties with the past, and one of those melodies that remains in your heart, long after you’ve moved on. Simply hearing it can take you back to a place and time when you were stuck in your own Dublin. For that reason as much as its fame, this stunning song is number one.
If you can’t listen to every song they ever made, and you really should, then listen to these top ten Thin Lizzy songs of all time. Turn the lights down and the volume all the way up. As a playlist, these are the songs that speak to the heart, soul, and verve of all things Thin Lizzy. From Jailbreak and Dublin to a remake like Wild One or Whiskey in the Jar, this band was in many ways the original rebel rock. Without Thin Lizzy’s fire and sound, modern rock would be very different indeed.