Mar 17

My Top 3 Favorite Versions of Danny Boy

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


In celebration of the day, I’d like to take a moment to wish you all the luck of the Irish and I tip my cap to you.


May you have warm words on a cold evening,
A full moon on a dark night,
And the road downhill all the way to your door.


There’s nothing I like more in classical/traditional music than a lovely Irish tenor.  Tenors in general are the neglected vocal part. It tears me apart when the altos are recruited to sing tenor.  The timbre can be so very different.

Well, before I have a flashback and lapse into musically technical terms, let me give you what you came here for.


Danny Boy:  Placido Domingo & Itzhak Perlman

Domingo has a pleasant timbre and his phrasing.  I feel that this version is a little rushed, as Danny Boy, to me was a song of mourning.  Domingo takes it a little too quickly and his phrasing is a little bumpy. However, he does make up for it by hitting “here” in “It’s I’ll be here”, without resorting to falsetto.  Not my super favorite, but doable.


May the Irish hills caress you.
May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.

Danny Boy:  Mario Lanza

While not an “Irish Tenor”, Lanza was known as the “greatest tenor in the world” long after his death in 1959.  Many of his songs carry a tinge of an Italian accent, however his pitch and timbre, especially on such a sad song, give me the goosebumps.  Certainly, his version is a little rushed also, however, the singing is well worth it.  He also sings full voice on “It’s I’ll be here….” and  “For you will bend…..”  The strings give the arrangement an extra poignancy.


Danny Boy: Finbar Wright

Perfect pace.  Perfect breath control.  The timbre is hair-raising (in a wonderful way). Get out your handkerchiefs, folks, this is the tear-jerker Danny Boy was meant to be.  One. Tiny. Thing.  Wright resorts to falsetto on “It’s I’ll be here.…” and  “For you will bend…..”  Yes, it’s a beautifully sweet falsetto, however, I wonder how it would have been had he full-voiced the note.  However, the rest of the performance is flawless.

Honorable mention – Danny Boy – John McDermott

I leave you with this

May your glass be ever full.
May the roof over your head be always strong.
And may you be in heaven
half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.

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