Irish and proud, baby, naturally
But you got the luck of a Kennedy
Referring to the phrase “Luck of the Irish.” The Kennedys are of Irish Catholic ancestry.
The “Kennedy curse” is the series of family deaths that followed Joe Kennedy’s decision to lobotomize his eldest daughter Rosemary in the mid-1940s. The job was botched, and she was permanently incapacitated. After Kennedy’s oldest son Joe Jr. was killed in a World War II Allied version of a kamikaze mission (actually before the lobotomy), other daughter Kathleen (“Kick”) died in a plane crash with her British lord non-Catholic husband, then Jackie pre-O miscarried, then of course JFK later on, RFK, JFK Jr., and several of RFK’s children to drug overdose and skiing accidents. Some of this album was written on Cape Cod, adding to the resonance.
Racing culture, especially horseracing, is a pretty prominent Irish American trope — gambling, alcohol, vagaries of fate and all that, like David Milch said on Luck (despite not being Irish). Vampire Weekend lyricist Ezra Koenig has a longtime fixation on Irish Catholics as fetishists of spiritual loss, as chronicled on his college era blog Internet Vibes in a post called “The St. Patrick’s Day Massacre” (he has also said one of his favorite books is James Joyce’s Dubliners, and “The Dead” is referenced on “Ya Hey”)
Here is a plug for that Joe Kennedy biography The Patriarch, which is like a Vampire Weekend song in book form, which is to say Vampire Weekend is a book on the American century in song form, which the writer Elif Batuman (The Possessed) said first, not me.
Read a joke by a music critic on the excellent Rap Genius-hating message board I Love Music that Koenig fails here to take his own advice in “Walcott” to escape the ghetto of Hyannis Port. The Kennedy family keeps its compound there as everyone dies off.
One reader, mickangelo, heard “I wish to die baby naturally…” which makes sense, too!
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