Is "Come Out, Ye Black & Tans" just the 1920 version of "Fuck The Police?"

"Come Out, Ye Black and Tans" is sort-of quintessential example of what you might call Irish Rebel Songs. With lyrics attributed to Dominic Behan, the tune is sort of a pissing match aimed at the Royal Irish Constabularies, the British police force in Ireland during the War of Independence. Colloquially called "the Tans" because of the color of the uniforms, Behan's song is not a fight call aimed between the eyes of the authorities, it's also a triumphant challenge against the entire structure of British colonialism. "Show your wives how you won medals down in Flanders!" Behan spits at his centrist neighbors who uphold the status quo by supporting British war efforts overseas. He links the Irish struggle to the Palestinians, the Native Americans, and the Zulus as well — other peoples who were scoffed at and spit upon by British occupying forces, who believed themselves to be mentally superior just because they had bigger guns. ("How bravely you faced one with your sixteen-pounder gun, when you frightened them poor natives to their marrow")

Basically what I'm saying is that Behan was singing "Fuck the Police" long before NWA was born.

And so, to celebrate the release of my new Irish folk album Forfocséic, Vol. 3: Love & War — out today on Bandcamp, with Spotify / Apple Music / etc to follow on March 10 — I decided to mash the two songs up into a single rousing anthem. I had recorded an earlier version back in 2019; despite the fact that I cranked the whole thing out in a single afternoon as a half-assed joke, it's somehow become my most popular song on streaming services. So clearly, the connection that I've drawn between these songs has hit a nerve!

For this newer, fully-fleshed out studio recording, I've enlisted the violin work of journalist and former Wirecutter Editor-in-Chief Jacqui Cheng, as well as live drumming by Craig Wesley Divino (who, coincidentally, will be appearing on the upcoming third season of Hulu's Wu-Tang series). I also added a nod to a song by KNEECAP, a fantastic Irish-language hip-hop group from Belfast who themselves have no love for the cops in the still-occupied Northern Irish area.

You can check out "Come Out, Ye Black & Tans (NWA/C.E.A.R.T.A. Remix)" above, or listen to the rest of the album below (which includes a more traditional, non-mashed-up take on the tune as well). And please, check out this and the rest of my Forfocséic Irish folk albums on whatever music service you prefer!