“The Boys Are Back In Town,” the basically accidental 1976 hit single that saved Thin Lizzy’s then-floundering career, is perhaps one of the most enduring rock songs ever written: Just in my lifetime, a decade after it was released, it’s been the basis of countless bizarre after-hours singalongs and the soundtrack to numerous idiotic stunts, as well as the inspiration for one of the most staggering pieces of stunt journalism ever committed to print. It also created, and defined, a genre in which it is both the sole entrant and the most seminal work. As others have pointed out, there are 100,000 love songs, but only one about those crazy guys finally coming home to their place.
Personally, I have a complicated relationship with this particular song, mostly because you could put a gun to my head and I couldn’t really tell why it’s so great. It has a sort of primitive, guttural appeal, inspiring deep wells of nostalgia for a place I’ve never been (Dino’s Bar and Grille) and people I’ve never met (those wild-eyed boys) that has no apparent relationship to my actual life. All of which is to say, it’s also a fantastic song to listen to as lockdowns across the country lift and people are once again spending time with their boys, and having canceled my Spotify subscription I found myself drifting over to YouTube to find it recently.
When a person makes their living in part by sifting through the sundry horrors of what other people consider fit to post online, it’s often shocking to find a part of the internet that’s legitimately delightful. The YouTube comments for “The Boys are Back in Town” is one of those places, a place where people of disparate experiences, separated by generations, come together to agree on one thing: The boys came back, and it’s a good thing.