Q&A: Ronan Tynan

Ronan Tynan first made his name with the Irish Tenors, but most Red Sox fans know him simply as that guy who sang “God Bless America” at Yankee Stadium. That is, until the incident. In 2009 Tynan made a passing remark about a pair of “Jewish ladies,” someone interpreted it as anti-Semitic, and all hell broke loose. The Yankees canned him, and Tynan, scorned by New York, defected to Boston. He’s been here a year now (he sang at Fenway last season!) and has his first big concert in town March 27 at the Wilbur Theatre. Jewish ladies, we presume, are welcome.

photograph by William Coupon

photograph by William Coupon

Do you have any preconcert rituals, like a hitter tapping his cleats?
I love to eat apples before I sing. A lot of singers, because you use your respiratory capacity so much, they get congested. You can very easily get a reaction to dust or something like that. The acids in the apple cut through that. That’s my theory.

Like an apple a day keeps the blown notes away?
An apple a day keeps the high notes in play. How about that?

Let’s talk about the incident that led to your split with the Yankees.
Well, a few months ago Abe Foxman [head of the Anti-Defamation League] said I have been a wonderful friend to the Jewish community. I think people in New York realize it was taken out of context. There’s not a grain of that sentiment in my body.

So you’re cool with the Jews now?
Oh, God, yeah.

Maybe now you can come sing the four questions at my Seder.
Well, I could start with “Yiddishe Momme.”

I don’t know that song. I mean, I’ve got a Yiddish mama….
I know you have. I’m very disappointed you don’t know that.

I’ve disappointed my mother in so many ways. This is just another.
Anytime I’ve ever sung it, people say their mothers love it.

You’ve been in Boston about a year now. How are you liking it?
I love it. The people are unbelievably friendly. There’s nothing I don’t like. Well, the difficulty is the driving. That’s all I’d say.

People were probably less friendly when you sang for the Yankees.
I used to get a lot of e-mails from Boston fans. Ninety percent of them would say, “We can’t hate you, because of the song.”

What did the other 10 percent say?
We won’t go to that.

Fans complain about that extra verse you sing in “God Bless America.” They say it screws up the visiting pitcher’s warmups.

I’m also a doctor; I specialize in orthopedic and sports injuries. Believe me, I know what rotator cuff syndrome is. Two minutes and 24 seconds is not going to mess up a pitcher.

Did you interact much with the players?
Yes, I’ll tell you what: Hideki Matsui is a very classy guy. I remember when Hideki broke his wrist, I wrote to him and wished him a speedy recovery. I got a lovely letter back.

As long as you don’t tell me that Paul O’Neill is a good guy.
Oh, God. Seriously, it’s a shame you say that. He is a class act. And I’ll tell you who’s another great guy: Tino Martinez.

You’re killing me.
Absolutely terrific guy. Terrific. But I used to love when the Red Sox came to Yankee Stadium. Jason Varitek, I have such respect for that man. Papi — God, I was so impressed with him as well.

All right, you’re making me feel better. Now, you sing all these beautiful songs, like “God Bless America” and “Ave Maria,” but is part of you ever itching to bust out some Lady Gaga?
God! You will have a better chance of hearing me sing some of Bruce Springsteen’s music, or Bono, or Phil Collins. I don’t think you’ll ever hear me singing Lady Gaga. I suppose I lean more toward the ballad than anything else.

But think of the outfits you could wear.
There’s a limit to wearing raw meat. I don’t understand that whole fashion sense — this whole couture thing. I’m an ordinary dresser. Though I do like wearing waistcoats.

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