“And he still hears the noise from the brigade, so you’re not gonna see his face in the final parade.” These words mark the chorus of an energetic, happy, fist-pumping, toe-tapping song filled with joy and excitement.
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Boston’s greatest ska punk legends, recently announced plans to release their 11th studio album. Although other information such as the name of the album or the release date haven’t been confirmed yet, the band released their first single, “The Final Parade”, on January 25, 2021.
When I first saw the song on Spotify, I was curious about the title. Maybe this was the final parade for one of my most favorite bands; after all, they’ve been around for over thirty years. Or, maybe this song was more about the perfect ska heaven that was just one endless party.
I was also greatly surprised by its length. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are known for songs that are usually about three minutes long, but this song was eight minutes long. I knew I was in for a great ride from there, starting from the emphatic drums, bass, guitar, and organ that had me dancing around my room!
Only forty seconds into the song, I was hit with another joyful surprise when I heard the voice of Aimee Interrupter, lead singer of Southern California’s rising ska legends The Interrupters. Aimee Interrupter’s vocals blended perfectly with Dicky Barrett’s (the lead singer of the Bosstones), and the two of them launched into a magical musical pair.
However, this was only the beginning of my happiest journey through a song. The beautiful story that the song told changed from the story about a man tragically abandoning all joy and giving up on the gift of music to an anthem paying tribute to the strong ska punk scenes on the east and west coasts of the USA. With this transition came the easily recognizable voice of ska punk legend Tim Armstrong, a thirty-six year veteran in the punk scene who founded and led heavily influential bands like Operation Ivy and Rancid. My delight only kept growing, and the smile on my face felt ready to burst at any moment.
As the song went on, I heard many more vocalists, but I couldn’t recognize most of them. However, I was able to clearly pick up the voice of New York hardcore punk band Murphy’s Law’s lead singer Jimmy G. Even if he had a small speaking role, I felt like I was on cloud number nine.
A new chorus, focused around the strong ska punk scene, continued to repeat. During one of the final iterations, Christian Jacobs from The Aquabats made himself heard. His wistful, wailing voice told tales of a golden age so long ago, where people would grab their boom boxes and take off into the streets.
All over the world, whether in Tokyo, Kingston, Detroit, Los Angeles, London, even Boston, people would dance in the streets and show the true power of unity. I felt tears of joy and longing travel down my cheeks as a wave of emotion swept over me. Somehow, I could see myself in those streets dancing with complete strangers in a blissful paradise. The parade of joy came to an end as the song faded away, as if being a part of that perfect party was becoming increasingly impossible. However, I didn’t feel despair or defeat as the song ended. Instead, the gradual fade out felt like I was waking up from that perfect dream. I felt refreshed, rejuvenated, reinvigorated with a new passion and motivation that was fueled by this song.
Curiously, I decided to search up who else was part of this star-studded lineup. This wasn’t my first timing hearing about songs where artists everywhere came together to collaborate. However, I never felt the same tremendous force of joy when I saw who took part in those songs compared to this one. As it turns out, the song featured members from lots of different bands ranging from ska punk stalwarts like Less Than Jake, Goldfinger, Buck O’ Nine, and Suicide Machines to grittier, more intense groups like New York’s H2O and Ireland’s Stiff Little Fingers.
2020 was a difficult year for the world, and this song helped lift the spirits of hundreds of thousands of people all searching for an answer to the tragedy and anguish, and for a glimmer of hope that would outshine the darkness. Although the hardships remain, we can all find a new purpose in forging on – the perfect musical world where we would dance in the streets and celebrate the joy of life and unity.