St. Patrick’s Day can be kind of a bummer holiday: There are the frat brahs getting wasted on green Bud in faux Irish pubs and screaming in the streets. There’s that asshole who uses March 17th as an excuse to pinch anyone who isn’t wearing the color du jour. If someone brings store-bought green cupcakes into work, it may well be the highlight of the day.
Still, we’re determined to get some joy out of St. Pat’s. If we must celebrate all things green, we’re going to do it with music — by counting down the 10 best songs that discuss or evoke the color, with its many meanings and connotations. Use the comments to nominate your favorite green-themed track.
10. “Green Shirt” — Elvis Costello
On a song full of hues, the green shirt in question feels fresh, young and eye-catching, but there’s also an element of menace and foreboding. Whatever the meaning of Costello’s color wheel, it doesn’t get any more ’80s than the video for this track from the singer’s heyday.
Essential lyrics: “You tease, and you flirt/You can shine all the buttons on your green shirt/You can please yourself but somebody’s gonna get it.”
9. “Everything’s Gone Green” — New Order
Green can mean healthy and fresh, but it’s also got a queasy flip side: The kind of nausea that makes you chartreuse in the face. That’s the feeling of New Order’s angular early-’80s nightmare “Everything’s Gone Green.”
Essential lyrics: “Confusion sprung up from devotion/A halo that covers my eyes/It sprung from this first estrangement/No one have I ever despised.”
8. “Money (That’s What I Want)” — The Beatles
What’s flat and green and has far too much influence over all of our lives? That’s right, that most ubiquitous of troubles: Money. The Beatles are known for singing “All You Need Is Love,” but here they’re a bit more mercenary than that. And we kinda like ’em that way. But you know what we like even more? The Flying Lizards’ brilliantly monotone New Wave take on the classic.
Essential lyrics: “The best things in life are free/But you can give them to the birds and bees/I want the money.”
7. “Pass That Dutch” — Missy Elliott
Let’s be real: You don’t have to be a college burnout to know that “green” isn’t just slang for money. Hell, Rolling Stone leaders devoted about half of their “best green songs” list to tracks about weed. Cypress Hill has practically devoted their entire oeuvre to marijuana odes. But because we like a pot jam we can also dance to, Missy’s “Pass That Dutch” is our pick.
Essential lyrics: “Pass that Dutch, pass that dutch/Pop that, pop that, jiggle that fat/Don’t stop, get it till ya clothes get wet.”
6. “Green Gloves” — The National
Green can also mean sickness, and that’s what comes to mind when we’re listening to frontman Matt Berninger intone this track’s slow, sad lyrics in his stirringly deep voice. There’s a horrible sense of nostalgia and distance on “Green Gloves”: The central image is filthy and clinical at the same time, the whole song a glorious mess of bitter contradictions.
Essential lyrics: “Get inside their clothes/With my green gloves/Watch their videos, in their chairs/Get inside their beds/With my green gloves/
Get inside their heads, love their loves”
5. “Green Light” — Beyonce
Sometimes a green light can mean everything’s good to go — but other times, as in this track, it means you’re getting kicked to the curb and it’s time to zoom off. Nobody crushes a male ego like Beyonce.
Essential lyrics: “You got the green light, you lookin’ right/You holdin’ up traffic, green means go!”
4. “All Green” — Clem Snide
Clem Snide is a ridiculously under-appreciated band we’ll always go to bat for. And “All Green,” an ode to summer love and good music, is not only one of their very best but also the absolute essence of greenness. See if it doesn’t get you pining for warm weather, backyard barbecues and the lushness of verdant trees in full bloom.
Essential lyrics: “Summer will come, with Al Green and sweetened ice tea/Summer will come and be all green with the sweetness of thee.”
3. “The Village Green Preservation Society” — The Kinks
There is a certain innocence to the color green’s natural-world connotation. Nowhere is that undertone clearer — or more sarcastic — than on “The Village Green Preservation Society,” the anthem for a fictional society of prissy prigs and the title track of The Kinks’ sixth album.
Essential lyric: “God save little shops, china cups and virginity!”
2. “Crimson and Clover” — Tommy James and the Shondells
It was Tommy James who first performed this psychedelic love anthem. And by now, it’s appeared on countless film soundtracks and just about everyone, from Prince to Dolly Parton has recorded a version. But for our money, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ cover is the sexiest by far. Meanwhile, as for what the whole thing means? Um… you tell us.
Essential lyrics: “Well, I don’t hardly know her/But I think I could love her/Crimson and clover/Over and over”
1. “It’s Isn’t Easy Being Green” — Kermit the Frog
This undisputed classic needs no introduction.