Skip to main content

Ricky Warwick's Top 10 Thin Lizzy songs

The Black Star Riders frontman's favourite Lizzy songs for drinking, touring and crying in your pint…

Ricky Warwick still can’t believe his luck. Born in County Down in 1966, the singer’s adolescence was soundtracked by Thin Lizzy’s smart, streetwise songs, meaning there was a distinct whiff of schoolboy fantasy when he joined the Dublin band’s late-period lineup in 2009. Now, as frontman of Lizzy splinter-group Black Star Riders, Warwick might sing the crowd-pleasers, but admits there are connoisseur cuts closer to his heart. “I wanted to get Whisky In The Jar in there, but I couldn’t find room,” he considers, “and The Boys Are Back In Town is still a work of genius, but we’ve all heard it a million times. I wanted to dig a bit deeper…”


Little Darling

“It’s a great anthem, catchy as hell, with a really simple lyric. Being in a band with Scott Gorham, I get to hear all the juicy stories about those times from him, and I’ve heard rumours that Little Darling is about a girl that followed the band at the time. It’s a great song to stick on before you go out for a night. You just crank it right up. It’s a killer rock anthem, a feel-good song. Songs like this have had huge influence on me. And Phil Lynott, even though he’s no longer with us… I’ve never learnt so much from a dead guy in my life.”

Philomena

“It’s written about Phil’s mum and about him being away. It’s also that age-old Irish thing of people leaving to find work overseas, and missing home. That’s still very prevalent today. People just tend to leave Ireland in search of a better life: some of them find it, some don’t. Philomena has just got that lament about it. There’s that longing, and it strikes a chord with me, being an Irish guy and having moved away. It’s showing the folk side of Thin Lizzy. That’s the thing I loved so much about them: they could have a Jailbreak, but then a song like_ Sarah_, which is just a beautiful song about Phil’s daughter.”

Wild One

“Again, it’s about roving, moving, leaving. I guess it’s about trying to find yourself, and some piece of mind. What I take from the Wild One lyric is that Phil is talking to somebody and saying, ‘Look, you can do all the crazy stuff, but don’t forget about the people that love you. Don’t forget where you came from. Don’t forget your roots. Don’t forget where you belong’. I was really excited when we played that song on the first Lizzy tours. Obviously, I was terrified when I got the gig, but I just wanted to do these songs in a way that reminded people of Phil singing them.”

Borderline

“I’ve gone for a ballad, more of a reflective song. Lyrically, it’s a picture of Phil sitting in a bar, crying over a girl. This lady has broken his heart, y’know, so it’s ‘I’m back on the borderline, one more time’. It’s, like, he’s loved and lost, and he’s trying to pick up the pieces and move on. It’s a conversation he’s having with the barman, basically. He’s sitting there at the bar, licking his wounds, nursing a drink or ten, and the barman is his only friend. The way it’s portrayed is amazing. That’s a song where I’ll pick up the acoustic guitar in the house and just play it while I’m on my own, just because it’s such a pretty song. There was talk about doing it in Lizzy, but we never did.”

Jailbreak

“It has to be in there. I’ve played that song every show with Thin Lizzy and Black Star Riders for the last nine years, and I look forward to it every night. The crowd go crazy. It’s the riff, it’s the huge chorus, it’s the breakdown in the middle-eight. It’s just the perfect rock‘n’roll song. Jailbreak is one of Phil’s great tough-guy lyrics. People talk about that line [‘Tonight there’s gonna be a jailbreak, somewhere in this town’]. And of course, it’s at the jail. But I mean, that’s tongue-in-cheek. I’m sure Phil was totally aware of that when he was writing it, and he’s just having a laugh. That song is pure poetry. I very much think of Phil as a poet, in the same way I think of Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Springsteen, Joe Strummer. Phil had something to say. For every song, even if it was ‘Let’s go party and get drunk’, there was meaning behind it.”

Waiting For An Alibi

“I’ve chosen three off _Black Rose_, because if I was pushed, that would be my favourite Thin Lizzy album. I just love Gary Moore’s playing, and for me, the songs deliver more than the other albums. First, I’ve gone for _Waiting For An Alibi_. It’s a masterful piece of rock-pop writing. It’s a heavy song, with a great pop melody, great lyrics, great delivery, great timing on the phrasing, a great chorus, and the dual guitar is just sublime. It’s huge. It sucks you right in and you’re hooked straightaway. I think this song is about being a gambler, and taking a gamble through life. This guy is a bit of a mover and a shaker, a bit of a player. That’s his way, y’know?”

Do Anything You Want To

“I actually have the lyrics of the first verse tattooed on my leg. I got it done in Cologne, six months into being in Thin Lizzy. Did it hurt? Ah, they all hurt, but that’s part of the fun. This might be my favourite Thin Lizzy song of all-time. It was the soundtrack to my youth, and the message in that song about overcoming adversity and being yourself and sticking to your guns really hits home. When I got into Thin Lizzy, there were a lot of doubters, a lot of people going, ‘He shouldn’t be doing it’. That lyric was the answer I was looking for. It was like Phil was saying to me, ‘Go for it. You can do this’.”

Got To Give It Up

“I love the slow start, with Phil crooning before it kicks in. It’s a song about addiction, about partying too hard and trying to stop. Unfortunately, I think Phil wrote that song about where he was at that point in his life, and maybe trying to heed his own words. But it’s a great rock song and a killer riff. When that _Black Rose_ album came out in ’79, I was really starting to get into guitar and songwriting, and I think that’s why I gravitated towards that album more than the others. I love them all, as you know. I just love that one a little bit more!”

Hollywood (Down On Your Luck)

“I’ve lived in Hollywood almost eleven years now, so I identify with this song a lot. Is Phil’s lyric having a pop at Hollywood? I think it’s tongue-in-cheek. From what Scott has told me, Phil was very enamoured with America and Americana, the whole thing. I certainly was as a kid. I always dreamed of living here; y’know, the whole Route 66 and rock‘n’roll thing, the glamour, the glitz. To a kid growing up in Belfast, that was the stuff of dreams, and I think for Phil, being a kid from inner-city Dublin, it was the same. It was escapism. When you first get to America, you find that it’s actually like the TV shows you saw as a kid. It doesn’t disappoint you. I just love that song.”

Sitamoia

“It’s not on a full studio album. _Sitamoia_ is on a compilation that came out in ’76 [_Remembering Part 1_]. It’s got this great tribal drumming that Brian Downey does at the start, and Phil doing this Gaelic chant over it. Then it just kicks into this amazing guitar riff, with this great first line: ‘Hey mister, can I shine your shoes?’ Lyrically, it just paints this picture. I think Phil is just talking to this homeless guy on the streets, and the imagery that his words conjure up is just fantastic. So those, I think, would be the ten Thin Lizzy songs that I listen to the most. But trying to pick just ten was a nightmare…!”


From the archive

From the archive

More from this edition

Get Involved

Trending Features

Promoted

Top