Come Out, Ye Black and Tans

Feb 17, 2024

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With exactly one month to go before St. Patrick’s Day, Shades of Green releases our take on the modern classic “Come Out, Ye Black and Tans“.

The origins of this song are complex. The tune was derived from the mid-18th-century Battlecry of Munster, which inspired a number of later songs. Most agree that it was Dominic Behan who wrote the lyrics and crafted this song in the mid-20th century, and it has since been recorded by a number of artists. Though the events described in the song date back more than a hundred years, the sentiment of the song and the obvious bitterness of the singer — a man who rails against his situation but doesn’t have the power to change it — have strong emotional resonance today that reaches beyond the Irish Republicans for whom it was written. 

Pat explains the “True Ghost Story” that inspired the military drum outro:

The birds were chirping but it was still dark. I shuffled around in my sleeping bag attempting to get comfortable on the damp and unforgiving grounds of McMillan Woods… Gettysburg.

I finally decide to lie flat on my back and just listen to the world wake up. The water was still dripping off the trees from last nights rain and a few birds were breaking into song beyond the morning contact chirps, that’s when I heard something even greater at work…a drum beating! Faint and distant, but with resolve. I listened with intensity until I could decipher the pattern. It did not get any louder but it would not go away! I scurried for my backpack and rummaged for something to write with. I found a pen but the only paper I had was my Gettysburg Batlefield map, it would have to do.I quickly sketched down the drum beating and listened again…got it! My next question was “is there really a reenactment going on before sunrise or is this all in my head?”As a lifelong drummer, I could not ignore this calling.

I quietly snuck out of my tent hoping not to disturb the scouts or the other scout leaders. Under a purple-red sky, I made my way up the dark muddy road towards the battlefield. Day was breaking and the drumming seemed to be fading away. I quickened my pace expecting to see a couple regiments of reeinactors lined up for battle. I crested Seminary Ridge with great anticipation and peered out onto the battlefield… not a soul (that I could see), just early morning peace. No drums and guns, no fifes, no cannons, no horses, just the loneliness of a red tailed hawk screaming and circling near the High Water Mark. I paced up and down West Confederate Avenue looking and listening…nothing.

Many years later I was in the studio with Shades of Green recording the song Come Out Ye Black and Tans, and I needed an eerie drum beating to serve as a retreat of the royal drums out of Ireland. My Gettysburg ghost beating found a purpose.

I did not choose this beating, it chose me.

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