I Listened to The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ “The Impression That I Get” On Repeat For An Hour

Welp… The inspiration well has run dry this month and I’m scratching my ass for a topic to write about in my ongoing commitment to farting out at least one blog post per month. So, welcome back to another edition of listening to a song on repeat for an hour! To make this latest installment even more on-the-nose, the song I’ll be recording my impressions about is “The Impression That I Get” by seminal ska band The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

The Rules of Engagement

Yes, there are self-imposed rules to this type of blog post. It’s a simple premise, but the magic lies in committing to listening to one song for 60 solid minutes and jotting down real-time ramblings that spring to mind in the moment. There are no lulls in the action. No bathroom breaks — as I learned the hard way while listening to Vin Diesel’s “Feel Like I Do” with a full bladder. Snacks and dancing are permitted, so long as I don’t pause the song, as evidenced during my experiment with “Loyal” by Chris Brown. If my sanity starts to unravel, as it did during repeat listens of “Bad Medicine” by Bon Jovi …. Tough shit! I’m strapped in for the full hour and just have to ride it out.

Listening to “The Impression That I Get.”

This song has been rolling around in my brain lately. Maybe I’m just impressionable (Ha! Get it?!) and it’s subconscious programming due to the scads of ska memes I’ve seen online lately. Perhaps it’s nostalgia? Or maybe it’s the general malaise I’ve been feeling and this bouncy-on-the-surface, philosophical-on-the-inside tune is the cure for what ails. Who the hell knows?! Let’s get started!

1st Listen

“Have you ever been close to tragedy / Or close to those who have? / Have you ever felt a pain so powerful / So heavy you collapse? / NO!” I like how the peppy, brass-powered groove of this song masks a darker side. Ska is the sound of remembering a time where life and disappointment didn’t club you like a baby seal… Then crashing back down to earth in a hail of horns.

2nd Listen

This chorus really packs a lyrical and musical punch. There’s the calm before the storm with the jukey guitar plucking and horn riffing. Then a heavy guitar crunch smacks you right in the tits before Dickey Barrett starts wailing the chorus. I dig it.

3rd Listen

“Never had to knock on wood / But I know someone who has.” I think we all know at least one person who’s a perennially hard luck soul. Like a human equivalent of Eeyore. Sooner or later, everyone’s turn to be that sad sack comes around. That sadness may last a season — or even a lifetime if you allow misery to define you. No matter how many times you wear your lucky socks, your lucky nail polish, or whatever superstition you subscribe to; eventually the luck runs out and you take a spin on the Wheel of Misfortune.

Shit. I’m having an existential crisis to ska.

4th Listen

I’m fighting the urge to start dancing like Sami Zayn busting through the curtain to face his opponent. Sami Zayn wouldn’t be having an existential crisis, damnit. Maybe that’s the beauty of ska? It’s hard to have a menty b when you’re skanking and picking up the change.

It’s also hard to type when you’re snapping your fingers and shimmying your shoulders.

5th Listen

You know who’s probably never had to knock on wood? The dude in The Mighty Mighty Bosstones who just had to show up and dance.¹ The only band guy who probably had an even sweeter gig was the old guy in hip-hop group Arrested Development who sat in a rocking chair and provided them with spiritual advice

On second thought, having to be an on-demand font of wisdom might be too mentally taxing. In hindsight, the Bosstones’ dancer probably had the better deal. You just let the music move you, so long as your Dr. Scholl’s hold up through the night.

¹ Post-production footnote #1: The name of the Bosstones’ dancing dude is Ben Carr. He was an original member and part of the group until they hung up their snazzy suits in 2022. He’s still dancing around. Just not in The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

² Post-production footnote #2: Baba Oje, “the oldest man in hip-hop,” passed away in 2018 at the age of 86. Arrested Development broke up in 1996, but reformed in 2000. Baba Oje was part of the group in both incarnations and was still a member at the time of his death. It was a helluva run!

6th Listen

For a band from Boston, there’s a distinct lack of Bahston accent in the Bosstones. Did Dickey Barrett study with a vocal coach? Did he get to be lead singer because he didn’t pahrk the cahr in Bahston yahhd?

7th Listen

I wonder what the world would have been like if ska continued to be a mainstream music staple past the ’90s? There would probably be a lot more kids saying, “Fuck yeah! I wanna play the trombone!” Ska could have provided some common ground between Benny Goodman-loving grandparents (or parents) and teenagers, discovering old and new music together through the combined power of brass instruments and and electric guitar.

8th Listen

Right now, I’m still stuck in an alternate universe where ska reigned supreme, uniting young and old. I like this end of the saxophone-flavored time-space continuum.

I bet mortgage rates in the Skalternate Reality are still at 4%.

9th Listen

That first “AAAAAARGH!” before launching into the chorus hits hard, sucking me out of the worm hole. Also, maybe it’s just my headphones, but there’s some really good bass playing³ on this song. It’s a steady, melodic thump that doesn’t compete with the cornucopia of instruments doing their thing.

³ Post-production footnote #3: The “really good bass playing” on this song is courtesy of Joe Gittleman, yet another Bosstone who stuck with the band throughout the entirety of their decades-spanning career. Today, Gittleman is an Assistant Professor at Vermont State University who teaches several classes on the music industry.

10th Listen

As much as I love this song, I’ve never listened to the full breadth of the Bosstones ouevre beyond “The Impression That I Get,” “The Rascal King,” as well as “Where’d You Go” and “Someday I Suppose” — the songs they performed in Clueless. (I love that movie.) I’m ashamed I never fully appreciated them enough before they retired in 2022.

I’m also realizing that my piddling knowledge of The Bosstones means that I’ll have to do some serious post-production research to provide adequate footnotes⁴ on band members, including the bassist and the guy who just dances around.

⁴ See post-production footnotes #1, 2, and 3 above. 

11th Listen

In addition to a world with more aspiring trombonists, would a Skalternate Reality also have provided more jobs for people who wanted to be in a band, but had no musical talent and just wanted to be a back-up dancer while their friends wailed away on the sax?⁵

Probably.

As a society, we really missed the boat with ska. Goddamnit.

Post-production footnote #5: Because I’m already handing out more citations than the PPA, the Bosstones’ sax player was Tim “Johnny Vegas” Burton. Another band member who stayed with The Mighty Mighty Bosstones from start to finish, I imagine Burton adopted the “Johnny Vegas” moniker as a way to distinguish himself from director/auteur Tim Burton. In either case, it’s an awesome nickname. Who the hell wouldn’t want to call themselves “Johnny Vegas”?

12th Listen

There’s an air of gratitude and admiration that cuts through “The Impression That I Get.” You can be grateful that tragedy never touched your life, but it also makes you wonder why some people can’t seem to catch a break or how we’d respond if we found ourselves on the losing end. We’d all like to think we’d be the epitome of grace under pressure, but you never know if you’ll break instead of bend when hard times hit. So, count your blessings, cross your fingers, and spare a kind word for those who are dealing with something.

13th Listen

Wow. This is delving into far more maudlin territory than anticipated. On a brighter note, I’m really enjoying the sound quality of these Airpods. I can feel the drums embedded in my brain. And they’re surprisingly melodic. High hats off to the Bosstones’ drummer,⁶ whose name I will have to look up after I finish this little experiment!

Post-production footnote #6: Joe Sirois was the Bosstones’ drummer on this track. While not an original member, Sirois played with the band from 1991 until they called it quits in 2022.

14th Listen

This song is pretty inspiring. It’s like an instruction manual for what to do when you’re faced with a stink fist of a situation. There’s never really a blueprint for how to respond to tragedy. Sure, there’s how we hope we would act, but maybe the lesson lies in learning from others, particularly those who demonstrate dignity and perseverance when bad things happen.

15th Listen

“I might be a coward / I’m afraid of what I might find out.” It’s a sobering reality when, one minute you’re walking around thinking you’re the BMOC  of life, then totally shitting your pants in a crisis the next. I’d imagine that would call your entire identity into question. It kinda makes you think that even the fortunate few who seem to skate through life with charm and ease are just one hard knock from becoming a completely different person if they’re just a paper tiger.

16th Listen

I’m no quantum physics major, but in some ways, a huge psychological shift that alters someone’s personality is almost like thrusting them into a parallel universe.

Damn. Who knew that a 3 minute and 14-second song by a bunch of Bostonians in snappy suits could bring about such deep feelings.

17th Listen

Damn. The bass on this song is really good. Sometimes, all you need is a good, consistent thump. No flashy noodly-noodly improvisational bullshit up and down the fret board. Just a steady pulse.

18th Listen

Beyond offering a portal to parallel dimensions, sentiments of gratitude and self-reflection, another underlying message of “The Impression That I Get” seems to be empathy. You might not understand how someone else copes, but in recognizing the conflicting strengths and frailties of others faced with insurmountable odds, it gives you a greater appreciation for how each of us are just one step away from our entire world changing.

So don’t be a dick.

19th Listen

We’re in the home stretch! And I’ve got nothing profound to say. Except for maybe I need to find longer songs for these types of blog posts. Like, seriously? I listened to this song 19 times? WTF?

That said, I’m just going to sit here and enjoy the song and the moment for what it’s worth.*

*And after a long day of feeling somewhat numb, that’s when I sat back in my chair and smiled.


Photo by Bryan Craddock from Pixabay

No Comments Yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.