U2 VidWorks – The Ballad of Ronnie Drew

Despite the fact that the four members of U2 are cultured, sophisticated world citizens, there’s no denying that, even for them, there’s no place like home. Home for U2 is Dublin, Ireland and our guys have, over the years, worked with many luminaries of the local music scene. Many of those connections are re-forged for this project, titled “The Ballad of Ronnie Drew,” which features a ton of well-known Irish artists, many of whom have collaborated with members of U2 in the past.
To start out, this song is a dedication to the fantastic traditional Irish singer Ronnie Drew, who was dying of cancer at the time of this recording. Ronnie Drew was the lead singer of the group The Dubliners, who U2 had previously appeared in tribute to when they covered Peggy Seeger’s “Springhill Mining Disaster” for a Late Late Show program in early 1987. Furthering the tie between Ronnie Drew and U2, Bono co-wrote the lyrics to a song for Ronnie’s 1995 solo album, Dirty Rotten Shame. Coincidentally, that song, “Drinkin’ in the Day,” featured backing vocals from, among others, the members of Irish rock band Aslan. U2 covered Aslan in 2013 when they recorded a stellar version of that group’s song “This is.” Aslan’s lead singer, Christy Dignam, also appears in the video for “The Ballad of Ronnie Drew.”
Another famous Irish gentleman named Christy appears in the video for “The Ballad of Ronnie Drew,” in the shape of Christy Moore, who contributed a verse in his own inimitable style. Christy Moore is likely known to U2 fans as the co-writer of the song “North and South of the River,” which appeared on the B-side to the Staring at the Sun single in 1997. Christy Moore also recorded a couple of his own versions of that song, one with backing vocals from Bono and Edge, and one completely solo. Slightly more esoteric is the single for a song called “Make it Work,” from 1986, which was co-written by Christy Moore and Paul Doran, and which featured drums from our own Larry Mullen.
Yet another great Irish voice that was contributed to the “Ballad for Ronnie Drew” project came from Andrea Corr, one-time lead singer of the band The Corrs, with her siblings. Bono appeared with The Corrs for a couple of songs in 2002 for their Live From Dublin album, and both U2’s front-man and his childhood friend Gavin Friday (who also appears in the “Ballad of Ronnie Drew” video) helped Andrea with her debut solo album as executive producers.
This is just a few of the great Irish artists with U2 connections who appeared in the video for “The Ballad of Ronnie Drew.” Many other wonderful Irish artists worked on the song and video for Ronnie Drew, demonstrating just how beloved the late Irish singer was in his native country. Next week, we will move on to discussing the first of the promotional videos from U2’s 2009 album No Line on the Horizon. In the meantime, why don’t you drop us a line below and let us know what you think of the video for “The Ballad of Ronnie Drew.”

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Ever since I realized as a kid, while poring over the liner notes of the Bob Marley - Songs of Freedom boxed set, that writing about music was a viable career choice, one of my greatest desires has been to write about U2. The band has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to contribute a little something to the fantastic online community that's been built around the band.

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