The Cover vs. The Cover – “Whiskey in the Jar”

Alright, we are going to shake things up this time on The Original Vs. The Cover.  We are going to actually look at two Cover versions of the same song and let them battle it out.  The song is “Whiskey in the Jar” and the bands are Thin Lizzy and Metallica.

Yes, the Thin Lizzy version was a cover and not an original.  “Whisky in a Jar” is actually on old Irish traditional song that was called “The Highwayman and The Captain”.  The lyrics were altered and the name changed to “Whiskey in the Jar” by the Beasley Brothers some time in 1967.  The song was later made famous by the Irish band the Dubliners in 1968.

The story behind the song is that this traveller (or highwayman) stole money from Captain Farrell.  He took it to his woman who betrays him (however, it doesn’t say what the betrayal is).  He later sees Captain Farrell again and ends up killing and winding up in prison.  It is such a happy song!!

Thin Lizzy

Thin Lizzy released the song as a single in 1972 and was not released on an album until the re-release of their 1973 albums ‘Vagabonds of the Western World’.  The song went to #1 in Ireland (of course) and stayed there for 17 weeks.  Pretty impressive.  The Thin Lizzy version is also the one most people today are probably familiar with as Metallica used their version to cover as well as U2, Gary Moore, Belle & Sebastian and many more.

Thin Lizzy made the song their own. It has the classic Lizzy sound and takes you right back to the 70’s when you hear it.  Phil’s vocals are a little gritty and are perfect for the delivery of this song.  The guitar is not over done and adds a great texture to the song.  The bass and drums lay down the right groove and it all blends nicely with the guitar and vocals.


In 1998, Metallic unleash their metal version of the Thin Lizzy classic.  The song was off their very successful album ‘Garage, Inc.’  For Metallica, the song went to #1 on the Mainstream Rock tracks in 1999.

The keep true to the Thin Lizzy version only adding a little more punch and aggressiveness.  The biggest difference between the two versions is Metallica does verse 1 & 2 before doing the chorus where Thin LIzzy did verse, chorus, verse, etc…  The only other difference is the Metallica version is Metallica which means heavier pounding on the drums and a little heavier guitar and bass.  A little more in your face, but not too heavy.


After spending time with both versions, I have to say the Thin Lizzy version rules for me.  As much as I like Metallica, you can’t go wrong with that 70’s sound and Phil Lynott’s voice.  It is a little more relaxed and I get into the story a little more with that version.  Heck, even the Eric Bell’s guitar has a sound that can’t be beat.  So, comment below and tell me which version you like better.  It is always great to get other people’s thoughts.  Until next time, have a great day!

“Whiskey In The Jar”

As I was goin’ over the Cork and Kerry mountains.
I saw Captain Farrell and his money he was countin’.
I first produced my pistol and then produced my rapier.
I said stand o’er and deliver or the devil he may take ya.

Musha ring dumb a do dumb a da.
Whack for my daddy-o,
Whack for my daddy-o.
There’s whiskey in the jar-o.

I took all of his money and it was a pretty penny.
I took all of his money and I brought it home to Molly.
She swore that she’d love me, never would she leave me.
But the devil take that woman for you know she tricked me easy.

Musha ring dumb a do dumb a da.
Whack for my daddy-o,
Whack for my daddy-o.
There’s whiskey in the jar-o.

Being drunk and weary I went to Molly’s chamber.
Takin’ my money with me and I never knew the danger.
For about six or maybe seven in walked Captain Farrell.
I jumped up, fired off my pistols and I shot him with both barrels.

Musha ring dumb a do dumb a da.
Whack for my daddy-o,
Whack for my daddy-o.
There’s whiskey in the jar-o.

Now some men like the fishin’ and some men like the fowlin’,
And some men like ta hear a cannon ball a roarin’.
Me? I like sleepin’ specially in my Molly’s chamber.
But here I am in prison, here I am with a ball and chain, yeah.

Musha ring dumb a do dumb a da.
Whack for my daddy-o,
Whack for my daddy-o.
There’s whiskey in the jar-o.

And I got drunk on whiskey-o
And I love, I love, I love, I love, I love, I love my Molly-o.

Written by: Irish Traditional Song, Eric Bell, Brian Downey & Phil Lynott

32 thoughts on “The Cover vs. The Cover – “Whiskey in the Jar”

  1. The Thin Lizzy is obviously the all time classic and yet… there is somewhere some mobile phone footage at rock band karaoke of me insisting the band do it the Metallica way and then drunkenly doing my best (as in worst) Papa Het impression

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Weirdly enough Mitch Lafon did a poll on this two weeks ago!

    I voted for the Dubliners 🙂

    Last year at Sausagefest, we did a mashup of all three versions because each got one vote each. We pooled them and edited together a medley!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cool on the medley. I should have listened to the Dublners version for reference, but sadly I didn’t.

      I saw Mitch’s post and thought great minds think alike. I had written this about a week before his post (I try to write 3 weeks ahead in case something comes up). Sometimes I will move things sooner or later depending on my mood.


  3. I said this elsewhere, but my buddy’s dad was playing this song at a folk music fest and I said “Dude..your dad’s playing Metallica.”

    Metallica was the first version I heard and I love it.
    However, I think I love the Thin Lizzy version just a tiny bit more.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My buddy’s dad is a retired university prof of Irish descent.
        A jacket with the patches kind of guy.
        I bet he still would not know who Metallica or Thin Lizzy were.
        Either he was doing the Dubliners or maybe a traditional Irish version.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. coooool front man..thin lizzy kicked serious***! whiskey in a jar ..metallica ain’t the same . metallica is great at being metallica..”battery”.for whom the bell tolls!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Not really sure why the question has even been asked. There is absolutely no contest. If you want to hear a version, other than the original, you have to listen to the ‘original’ version; the late, very great, Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy singing the only version that matters…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha!! I had to pose the question even if the answer was no contest. There is no denying Phil was incredible. It is a lot of fun doing these posts and seeing what people prefer even if sometimes they choose wrong and don’t choose Phil. Thanks for stopping by.


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