Ah, ’tis St. Patrick’s Day today, a time during which we all salute the fabled “luck of the Irish,” drink repulsively green beer and shelter in place against the monstrously unlucky spread of the coronavirus.
It’s also a time to cue up songs that focus on human fortune, both good and bad. While we all can’t be showered with good luck, we can all sing about it as these folk have done so well.
Please note that these tunes are arranged in the order they lucked out on the Billboard charts.
1. “Unanswered Prayers”
(Garth Brooks, No. 1, 1990)
As Brooks reminds us here, the luckiest things sometime come our way in the guise of the worst things. That guy or girl who broke our heart in high school doesn’t look nearly so alluring now shoving those screaming kids into a minivan.
2. “It’s Been a Great Afternoon”
(Merle Haggard, No. 2, 1978)
Here is luck in the form of “lucking out” romantically. After nursing a hard-won hangover all morning, the singer hits his stride with a little help from his co-conspirator: Well you nursed me through the morning while I was really down/then one rowdy afternooner got me up and around.
3. “I Feel Lucky”
(Mary Chapin Carpenter, No. 4, 1992)
You can almost see Carpenter bouncing up and down with glee as a lottery win makes a lie both of her grim daily horoscope and foreboding thunderclouds above her head. The moral of this story, it’s simple but it’s true/Hey, the stars might lie but the numbers never do. And there’s the more durable moral: If you feel lucky, you are lucky.
4. “Lucky Moon”
(The Oak Ridge Boys, No. 6, 1991)
Our guy overhears a conversation in which his lover says he’s so neglected her romantically that she plans to leave him tomorrow. So he engages the moon to help him change her mind. Does it work? Judge for yourself.
5. “Lucky Me”
(Anne Murray, No. 9, 1980)
What we have here is irony at work. There is no romantic luck for the singer, even as she desperately seeks it. All she witnesses is the good luck in love of others.
6. “You Win Again”
(Hank Williams, No. 10, 1952)
When love is reduced to a blood sport, there’s only one winner. You have no heart, you have no shame/You take the love and give the blame/I guess that I should not complain/I love you still, you win again.
7. “The Winner”
(Bobby Bare, No. 13, 1976)
Leave it to Shel Silverstein to give us the real scoop on life and Bobby Bare’s laconic delivery to make us grin and bear it. The scene is a bar, and a scrappy young drunk decides to take on the legendary brawler, Tiger Man McCool. But before the two go at it, Tiger Man explains to his young opponent some of the “prizes” that come of winning. Now this broken back was the dyin’ act of Handsome Harry Clay/that sticky Cincinnati night I stole his wife away/And that woman she gets uglier, and she gets meaner every day/But I got her, boy, and that’s what makes me a winner.
8. “The Lucky One”
(Alison Krauss & Union Station, No. 46, 2001)
The code of a romantic drifter: Give you a song and a one night stand/you’ll be looking at a happy man/’cause you’re the lucky one. Not so lucky, though, are the ones left in his wake.
9. “That Lucky Old Sun”
(Nat Stuckey, No, 66, 1978)
This was a big pop hit in 1949 for Frankie Lane and Vaughn Monroe. Unlike the singer in this song who has to endure a life of disappointments and hard labor, that lucky old sun’s got nothin’ to do/but roll around heaven all day.
10. “Lucky Me”
(Randy Houser, 2016, not a single)
She walks in and he’s so instantly smitten he just has to sing about it. And what a silver-tongue devil, he is. So in the words of the great, gun-pointing Dirty Harry, “You’ve just got to ask yourself one question:’Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?”