The hook-laden sounds of 1960s rock bands like the Beatles and the Byrds and the working-class imagery of Bruce Springsteen are combined with the musical traditions of Ireland and the intensity of punk rock by The Saw Doctors. The Saw Doctors were a little-known local bar band in Tuam (pronounced “Chewam”) in County Galway when they were invited by Mike Scott to be the opening act on the Waterboys’ 1988 tour of Ireland and the United Kingdom. In the decade since, however, the Saw Doctors have emerged as the most successful Irish rock band since U2. The Washington Post referred to the Saw Doctors as “one of the world’s most appealing roots rock outfits.”
The Saw Doctors had their initial success with their second single, “I Useta Love Her,” a turbocharged tune about lusting for an old girl during Mass. Despite opposition by the Catholic Church, the song became the biggest-selling single in Irish history and spent nine weeks at the top of the Irish charts. Following its success, the Saw Doctors’ first single, “N17,” about an immigrant’s homesickness, was reissued, and it too became a number one hit. The Saw Doctors’ debut album, If This Is Rock and Roll, I Want My Old Job Back, released in 1991, also reached the top slot on the Irish charts.
The following is a clip of The Saw Doctors performing N17 in Galway, Ireland. By the way, the N17 is a highway in Ireland which begins in County Sligo and ends in County Galway. Take note of how involved the audience is in singing along with the band. This group seems to play in Boston three or four times a year and we always try to catch a show. After all, this is affectionately known as County Boston. If you have the chance to see them in person, don’t miss the opportunity.