For some reason, bagpipes never caught on in rock and roll like guitar or piano — but thankfully, it does have an annual holiday.
July 27 marks Bagpipe Appreciation Day and in order to properly celebrate the traditional Scottish instrument, here’s a list of popular songs that showed the bagpipes can rock:
Arguably the most classic radio rock tune that features bagpipes, “It’s a Long Way to the Top” opened AC/DC’s second album “T.N.T.” with a bang. It’s safe to say there were a lot of Australian kids asking for bagpipes at Christmastime in 1975!
Dropkick Murphys - “I’m Shipping Up to Boston”
A recent classic, this single from the bagpipe-loving celtic rock group Dropkick Murphys turned a lot of heads when it was featured on the soundtrack of the 2005 Oscar-winning film “The Departed.” This one definitely made bagpipes cool for a whole new generation of rock fans.
The Church - “Under the Milky Way”
Another Australian band turns to the bagpipes for inspiration. This 1988 track Was a Top 40 hit in the U.S.A., turning a lot of people onto the ‘pipes. However, its memorable bagpipe solo was actually played with a guitar-effect device called an Electronic Bow, mimicking the sound of the iconic Scottish instrument.
John Farnham - “You’re the Voice”
Okay, we get, Aussies love bagpipes maybe more than Scots. This very ‘80s jam from Australian singer John Farnham snuck a blaring bagpipe solo onto Adult Contemporary radio in 1986. It may not be the coolest song on the list but the bagpipes can’t be denied.
Rod Stewart - “Rhythm of My Heart”
Iconic artist Rod Stewart caught bagpipe fever in 1991, with the release of this single. A favorite in Scotland, Stewart sang the tune at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on Wednesday.
The Sensational Alex Harvey - “Anthem”
“Anthem” might be the most epic song ever to feature bagpipes, and that’s saying something. This nearly 8-minute tune from Scotland’s own The Sensational Alex Harvey Band features an inspiring bagpipe section played by two members of the London Scottish Regimental band.
Steve Earle - “Copperhead Road”
It was only a matter of time before country music incorporated the ‘pipes. Critically-acclaimed artist Steve Earle used a synthesizer effect that mimicked bagpipes to open this 1988 track, which was his only American Top 10 hit.
Wings - “Mull of Kintyre”
This track from Paul McCartney’s band Wings was a massive hit in the United Kingdom when it dropped in 1977. Written about and named for a scenic spot in Scotland’s countryside, the song’s poetic style showcases the traditional use of bagpipes.
The White Stripes - “Prickly Thorn, but Sweetly Worn / St. Andrew (This Battle is in the Air)”
A two-for-one bagpipe special, these two tracks from alternative icons The White Stripes heavily feature the instrument overtop a thumping drum beat. They both appeared on the band’s Grammy-winning 2008 album “Icky Thump.”
Various - “Amazing Grace”
Does it get any better than this? The all-time greatest bagpipe song, nearly guaranteed to bring tears no matter who performs it.
What’s your favorite bagpipe jam?
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