Better than Chunky Stew 

Thin Lizzy: A Skeptic's Guide

by Adam Gnade

Thin Lizzy

Fri Feb 6

Berbati's Pan

YOUR UNCLE LOVED THIN LIZZY, but you didn't much love your uncle. Uncle Alan, he wanted you to call him. OD'd two years ago. Had a hockey mullet in the early '80s. Cokehead ad exec shag a few years later. Sickly Navajo-white skin. Toast-crumb mustache. Always turtlenecked. Drove a 1978 Volkswagen bug, with a beautiful cherry-red paintjob, which nevertheless broke down weekly. Had two kids with some hippie woman in Gresham--you never met any of 'em. As a result, you saw Thin Lizzy as the raw personification of everything STRAIGHT UP LOSER-Y. But you should reconsider. Shrug off your bias and embrace Lizzy for the following three career highlights:

* "The Boys are Back in Town." Okay, easy to hate, granted. Dumb catchy chorus made perfect for credit-card commercials. Lyrics that say on the surface, "I am here as filler." But there's a story deeper in. (Vietnam vets back in the USA. Fuckin' shit up, smilin' big and making a mess!) And sure, it's been played to death since 1976, but you better believe it felt good to sing along to at the time.

* Doesn't "The Boys are Back in Town" sound a little like Ted Leo? Think about it. Listen to it and Ted's "Where Have all the Rude Boys Gone" back to back. It's that same rowdy, celebratory style, punctuated by a simple but jabbing central riff, with a bulldog-stiff working-class delivery. (Lizzy's Phil Lynott idolized working-guy Bruce Springsteen early on, and Ted's been oft compared to... who? That's right. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN! See!)

* Finally, the original title for "The Boys are Back in Town" was "G.I. Joe is Back in Town" due to Lynott's love for the plastic dolls. Genius.

So that's that. I know what you're thinking: Thin Lizzy did indeed write more than "The Boys are Back in Town," but they didn't need to. That one rambunctious gloryshot was enough. To paraphrase Campbell's Chunky commercials, it's a song so thick it eats like a meal.

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