Till St. Dymphna Kicks Us Out - Conor Oberst

from the album Salutations (2017)

St. Dymphna's is a small bar in NYC's East Village.  It is on St. Mark's Place between First Avenue and Avenue A, half a block from Thompkins Square Park.  It is a blue collar, bohemian joint that you would be proud to drink in.

In his song Till St. Dymphna Kicks Us Out, Conor Oberst writes an ode to those souls who habitually head down to the local bar to have a pint, a puff, and talk about their tribulations.  He treats these patrons with love and sympathy, making this song touchingly human.  In some ways, he considers them inflicted.

Oh, you don't have to lie, say you're alright
We're just happy that you're here
But if you yell and tell me to go to hell
Well at least you'd sound sincere
Oh, you know it's all a spectacle
When you go to take a bow
You always did get nervous in a crowd
But if you need some company
I'll gladly stick around
And we can keep drinking till St. Dymphnus kicks us out

Once I understood where this song was coming from, I could not stop listening.

The interwoven metaphor of the actual St. Dymphna takes this song to an entirely higher level.

St. Dymphna is the patron saint of the emotionally disturbed and mentally ill.  A seventh century girl born in Ireland to a pagan king and Christian mother, she became the object of her father's desire at age fourteen following the death of her mother.  He was mad, likely with syphilis.

Together with a priest - Father Gerebernus - and a small entourage, she fled Ireland for the Belgium city of Geel.  There she set up a hospice with money from her father's kingdom and cared for the afflicted.  Ultimately, her father tracked them down, had Father Gerebernus killed, and when she refused to return to Ireland personally decapitated her.

For nearly twelve hundred years since, Geel is noted as a city where the mentally ill come in search of treatment and a cure.  To this day, townspeople take the suffering into their homes and offer them support.  It is a truly beautiful tradition.

The paralleling of the patrons of the bar to the pilgrims of Geel, tied together by St. Dymphna, is pure magic.

Click Here to listen to Till St. Dymphna Kicks Us Out by Conor Oberst.


  1. Caring has always been a most admirable trait of humanity; however the most valued of traits are honesty, and sincerity, as these are the traits that truly allow us to befriend one another. The local pub, for as long as the drink has challenged sobriety, has been the place where trust, caring, and that healing feeling of letting a "go to hell" out with sincere conviction has brought us all together, and that is what everyone needs at the end of a day - caring to offset the mental ills of existence.

    1. Thanks JB. Next time we are both in NYC, we should head there. Michael lives four blocks from the bar.


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