The Craic is Free

by James Olin Oden

  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

      $8 USD  or more


  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Includes unlimited streaming of The Craic is Free via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 7 days

      $10 USD or more 




Craic means “good times, fun”. It’s the kind of fun you have with your mates with or without a pint. It is the stuff we share between ourselves that warms the heart and fills the air with laughter. One could go so far as to say it is the substance of the true love and friendship. The only currency that will buy it is time and good will. Yes the Craic is free, but it’s precious.


released May 26, 2013

Produced by James Olin Oden and Greg Elkins
Recorded, Mixed and Mastered by Greg Elkins at Desolation Row
Cover Art Jewelry by Sandra McEwen,
Cover Art Photograph by Jason Dowdle,
Layout by Skillet Gilmore

James Olin Oden - Vocals, Classical Guitar, Whistles, Bones, Antlers, Bodhran, Guitalele
David Pitts - Double Bass
Caitlin Cary - Vocals
Emily Musolino - Vocals
Justin Johnson - Mandolin, Guitar
Eric Hahn - Uillean Pipes
Claire Byrne - Fiddle
Scott Johnson - Irish Dance
Jeff Holshouser - Vocals


On my first album I spent gobs of time, and for this I was thankful for my wife Katherine’s patience. This album seemed to take even more time and surely you were just as patient and supportive as before, if not more. Beyond that you daily articulated your love for me, and I am eternally grateful. Grá mo chroí, my only one, I love you dearly.

Big thanks to Greg Elkins, you’re the guard at the gate, a teacher par none, and you might just have a future in therapy. Thanks to David Pitts; your patience and skill in tackling all this material is much appreciated. Thanks to Caitlin Cary and Emily Musolino; you both have so enriched this album with your vocal harmonies. Jeffro, thanks for that little bit of your limitless rock roll energy you managed to bottle and sprinkle on this recording. Eric Hahn, you rock...even if it be with an Irish instrument playing Irish music, there is no other word to describe it. Justin and Nikki, my life has been enriched by your friendship; when I grow up I want to play guitar just like Justin. Claire, what an amazing fiddle player and a truly amazing person. Strength sister! Driftwood, I know you all by name, and you are all dear in my heart; your music and your lives truly articulate that “Love is”. To Scott Johnson and his mom Karen Johnson, thanks so much for taking time to show what the lift is all about. To Laura Thurston, thanks for being a friend, a peer and setting an example of dogged persistence combined with a joyful spirit. To Eric Meyer, thanks for the late night listening and advice...there is more playing together in our future. To Rummy, the world is in trouble if you and I ever really get to drinking. Benton Weese, dude hugs! Lynwood, no electronic device is necessary, the love is great in you. To my Shakori Family, I’m ever speechless at your impact on my life; keep carrying on the beat. Zemo Trevathan, you possess a kingdom and your riches are plentiful; to dwell in your court is most pleasant indeed. To Ryan Roseborough, dude let’s get the JaCeltFunkazz on! To Annie Nice, your strength is inspiring and your kindness towards me is always noted. To Seán Ó Sirideán, may you sing with the boldness of Cú Chulainn. To Tír Na nÓg may the Craic always fill your homes. To Big Boss, thanks for not only for starting a company but building a community. To Clan LaFonde: I love you all...more than haggis (-; To Wake District Pipes and Drums, thank you ever so much for making me always feel welcome amongst you. To Kirk Ridge, thanks so much for believing in me and giving me so many opportunities to shine. To Dean Driver and the Doodad Farm folks, you got the vision, run! To Sandra McEwen, I can only hope to do in music someday what you do in your art; completely inspiring. To Dan Leonard, thanks for the advice. To Moira and John O’Connor, Richard O’Connor and Dawn Kwietniewski, and all the rest of Clan O’Connor: you’re the best family I could ever have. To all my friends and fans that have supported me so graciously over the years: I love you all, and am honored to participate in the your lives.

Finally, to the Craic, may you always be present, and treasured. Let us gather together in “true love and friendship”; Let us “go through the door”; Let us “behold how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity”. Let each of us of unclear vision come together and more clearly see: The Craic is Free!



all rights reserved


James Olin Oden Raleigh, North Carolina

It's always been about what moves the heart. The songs I sing are compelling stories whose telling must be told over and over again. The stories range from dark acts that should not be forgotten to the silly revelries that we should never forsake. My hope is that as my heart is moved by the music so too may yours be moved.

Sláinte Mhór...James

Licks and Lyrics Interview on WCOM 103.5: http://t
... more

contact / help

Contact James Olin Oden

Streaming and
Download help

Redeem code

Track Name: The Craic is Free
As long as there's company, and Craic's in the house
We'll drink of friendship’s creathur, all through the night,
The whiskey has a price, but the Craic is free,
Come on friends and neighbors won't join along with me.

I've heard many a tale make a strong man cry,
Of war and famine, how fools die,
But while there a chance lets be of one accord,
The whiskey has a price but Craic is free.

Well hearing your laughter, and seeing your smile,
There ain't nothing better I've seen in while.
A rich man drinks his whiskey, it’s precious and dear,
but we'll taste of friendship’s sweet camaraderie


Now what do I hear to my surprise,
but the pipes they are playing into the night.
Friends get to stepping, by circles we go round,
In true love and friendship the Creator’s crown.


(Repeat First Verse and Chorus)
Track Name: James Olin Oden/Turlough Carolan - Bring on the Night/Sidhe Beag Sidhe Mhór
Slowly the day slips away into the night,
As I lay in dreams gentle sway, my lass is in my sight,

She’s fairer than the moon and the stars,
She lightens up my heart.
But in the day she’s so far away, and I have no respite.

As it season pass, and I go to mass I fervently hope and pray,
To see my lass as the tears amass, and down my cheeks stray.


As each dram pass, and drunkenness amass she’s almost in my sight,
Oh I’m one drink away from dreams gentle sway, and I will see her light.

Bring on the night
Track Name: It Couldn't Have Been the Whiskey
It couldn’t have been the whiskey that left me in this state,
A bottle of finest, the best for goodness sake!
The company was the kindest, ceol, ól agus craic!
It couldn’t have been the whiskey, no! It must be something else!

Allen was a buying dram’s for everyone,
The music was a flying so fast I couldn’t keep up,
So I started singing, “Bimid ag Ól”, [We be drinking]
It couldn’t have been the whiskey, no! It must be something else!


Now Ted he was joking, as was oft’ his style,
Laughing and cavorting,“Ag pógadh na mban”, [and kissing the ladies]
The ladies were a dancing, it was such a sight.
It couldn’t have been the whiskey, no! It must be something else!


Now I’ll truly own, we were up rather late,
The room it was a whirlin’, I had to take me seat,
“bímis ag ól is ag rince le ceol” [we be drinking and dancing and playing music]
It couldn’t have been the whiskey, no! It must be something else!


Now Katherine was a screaming in the morning time,
“Now ‘There’s the Day’ darlin’, you’ll get no rest this time!”
The whiskey she was cursing, “Oh no, it’s not to blame!
It couldn’t have been the whiskey, no! It must be something else!

Track Name: Listen Louder
We've all got so much to say, but lack the patience to hear one another,
A world full of voices that can't be heard, cause we’re all talking over each other.
Spent my life playing the tunes that resonate in my heart,
All of me and little of you, It’s no wonder we’re so far apart.

Gotta listen louder,
Gotta listen hard,
Gotta listen louder,
If you ever wanna be heard.

See the people screaming at one another, cutting down, showing disdain,
Too damn busy proving their points to hear what each others saying.
Why you want to talk to me about love, it's a waste of your precious breath,
Why don't we just get to loving one another, and the'll be nothing more to say.


There I was trying to play along, I put my whole heart in it,
Wasn't working out, what was wrong, the old man said, "You gotta listen louder"
His words they cut to the bone, didn't want to admit I was wrong,
Gotta cut the earth before you sow, the seeds that are gonna make you grow.


I can see we don't agree, well that's alright with me.
I love your spirit, I love your smile, we don't have to agree.

Track Name: Daniel Forsyth of Driftwood - Love Is
Maybe she will walk with you,
Maybe she’d let you hold the shoe,
Maybe she’d run, Maybe you’d fall,
But what’s it gonna take for you to realize
Everyone flies by the seat of their pants.

Holidays wear you thin,
Holidays come and go the same,
Hollow little thought in the back of your mind,
Wrap your presents up in a paper bag,
Who cares what kind of dough you spend on your gifts.

You know the right words,
The words you’re waiting for,
You know the the right shadows when they fall,
Well you’ll be waiting for years for that day to come,
But don’t you wait too long, no don’t you wait too long.

Cause everyone falls in love,
Everyone makes the change for love,
So don’t you let it get you down,
Or cause you any grief,
Cause love is not a loan that you pay on time,
Love is not a crutch that you think is fine,
Love is not a book, man, to keep you in line,
Love is not a rule for you to break or live by,
Love is not a word that you should throw around,
Love is not a stone for you to cast when you are down,
Love is in your eyes and love is in your hand,
And Love doesn’t care if you are a fool or a rich man.

Cause love is,
Love is,
Cause love is.
Track Name: Another Tip in the Jar
She’s got a pretty voice,
She melts my heart of stone,
She takes me there,
Every time...

You know the kind,
A voice that damn near blew my mind,
I just assumed,
She’d go far...

A few days later to my surprise I see her tending the bar.
I look in her eyes, I see the fire,
I hope and pray she’ll go far.
But for now, here’s another tip in the jar....

Time and time again,
She moves the crowd,
Causing them...
to feel...

I’m so numb with drink,
So much pain its hard to think,
She reaches through to my...

But for now, here’s another tip in the jar...
But for now, here’s another tip in the jar...
Track Name: traditional - Rare Auld Mountain Dew/Chief O'Neil's Cavalry March
Let the grasses grow and the waters flow in a free and easy way,
But give me enough of the rare auld stuff that's made near Galway Bay,
And policeman all from Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim too,
We'll give them the slip, and we'll take a sip of the rare auld mountain dew.

There's a neat little still at the foot of the hill, where the smoke curls up to the sky,
By a whiff of the smell, you can plainly tell, there's poteen boys nearby,
And it fills the air with a perfume rare, and betwixt both me and you,
As home we stroll we can take a bowl of the rare auld mountain dew.

Now learned men as use the pen have writ thy praises high,
Of the sweet poteen, from Ireland green, distilled with wheat and rye,
Away with yer pills, it will cure all ills, be you pagan, christian or jew,
So take off your coat and grease your throat with the rare auld mountain dew.

Track Name: So Many Years Ago
When I was a young man, so many years ago,
Me father set me down and these words he did sow,
"You must be off, into the world you must go,
And there finding teachers, bind knowledge to your soul."

"But be careful who you choose to impress upon your heart,
Expertise and skill are not the only part,
Arrogance once sowed will leave a fallow soul,
And all you've learned will be for not."

Well as you might have guessed, a musician I would be,
I travelled far and wide, and many I did see,
With skill so great, and wonderful indeed,
But careful I was, of who would teach me.


Now many years have passed, my teachers many,
Kindness and Joy, and sweet Humility,
And yet I still learn, with a great company,
Of brothers and sisters surrounding me.

Track Name: Go Through the Door (Rough Stones)
Our words rough stones,
Precariously laid one upon the other,
Building walls and homes,
Delineating the boundaries of our lives.
Cold and Lifeless,
Having no breath,
The mark the paths through which life flows.

Be careful where you lay them,
Lest you impede the progress of another,
Do not cast them in anger,
For they do kill.
Do not stand before them
Staring in wonder,
Go through the door and know love.
Track Name: traditional - Flip Flop Song/Mrs. McLeod's
Come listen to me sing, a very funny thing that happened to Timmy McGee,
He went one day to Maregai to swim in the briny sea,
The weather being damp, he said he'd have a gamp, what a very silly thing to do.
He jumped right in and the wind caught him, and off to the sky he flew.

He's gone on to glory, he's gone flip-flop,
He's gone on to glory, and he's just wiped off the map,
Their searching, their searching near and far,
Their searching for McGee, but he's gone .to Fiji,
And they don't know where he are.

Little Billy Prance, swore in a trance, he'd die for a thousand pounds,
The bet was made and Billy was laid underneath the ground,
For six long months he laid there in the fine grave that they laid him,
But when they went to dig him up they did not know where they laid him.

Their searching silly, for they can't find billy
For they don't know where he are.

Tim Mcgee, was an engineer, he drove the scotch express,
Said Tim, be dad, I'd feel very glad, If I could win that race,
So off he went, one hundred miles an hour, Tim would be the first,
10 to 1 it would have been, but the blooming boiler burst.

They're searching for McGee, but he's gone to Fiji,
And they don't know where he are?

Michael McGannon, heard of a cannon, that could fire a 1000 tons,
Be Dad, says he, I'll go and see that big and mighty gun,
So off he went on fine summers day, but he did not know the cannon was loaded,
He stepped aside to light his pipe, and the cannon it exploded.

Their searching for McGannon, who exploded the cannon,
And they don't know where he are!
Track Name: traditional - There's the Day (Ta na Lá)
A fitful sleep the landlord had,
‘Mid din and chat none of his choosing,
His daughter ‘til the broad daylight,
Abusing those who stood there boozing.

There’s the day, it’s not the day,
‘Tis the day, the night is over,
It’s not the day, whatever you say,
It’s only the moon to guide the rover.

Come landlord join us in the snug,
all drowsy thoughts of slumber scorning,
There’s not a drop in jar or jug,
That we won’t drain before the morning.

I’ll stay in bed the landlord said,
For if I get up you’ll go out quicker,
So drink your fill of swipes and swill,
But not one drop of my good liquer.

The tavern has my socks and shoes,
The landlord has my coat and britches,
By morning I’ve no more to lose,
So I’ll go and snooze among the ditches.

But I’ve money left to treat a friend,
Here’s my last guinea upon the table,
Let’s tilt the barrell upon its end,
and we’ll stay drinking whilest we’re able.