If you didn't know better, you'd think the Wisconsin labor protests were a marketing ploy to set up the new Dropkicks album. I mean, come on: unionization hasn't been a fashionable populist cause since the '70s. It's one of the reasons people like to poke fun at the Murphys' blue-collar Irish hooliganism: weren't their folk songs and Wobbly balladeerng just a couple of handy anachronisms to hang their drunk-punk anthems on? Well, no, actually. The Tea Party presumed to speak for the so-called "Real America." As Chris Faraone pointed out in his reporting on the raucous solidarity rally at the State House this week, that shit doesn't fly in Massachusetts.
Now that a grassroots, working-class movement is playing out live, in the heartland, one casts about for what it should sound like. The movie in your head, the highlight reel of MSNBC and statehouse takeovers and signs and all of it: who's playing in the background?We figure there's about two and a half choices: you got your Springsteen, and you got your Dropkick Murphys. And they're both on Going Out In Style. (The half would be Connor Oberst. Where the hell is that guy, anyway?)
The Dropkicks are on their way, at this moment, to Wisconsin: not, as we accidentally suggested the other day, to play at a labor rally. But instead because, coincidentally and perhaps fortuitously, they made tour plans that included a gig playing the fourth period at a minor-league hockey game. That's the luck of the Irish for you: right place, right time. Wrong reason? You won't hear me say it's so: I don't know another band who have the quintessentially Boston gift of taking a roomful of bloodthirsty hockey or baseball fans and turning it into a raving bastion of leftist propoganda, the way they've been doing for years now with their by-far biggest hit, "Shipping Up To Boston," which by the way is also probably Woody Guthrie's biggest hit since "This Land Is Your Land."With the Boss on board and a populist labor movement ascendent, you couldn't possibly gerrymander a better atmosphere for the release of Going Out In Style. But just in case, they also hired one of Boston's finest prose wrters -- Michael Patrick McDonald, famous for his nightmarish Southie memoirs All Souls and TKTKTK -- to write a companion piece to the album, which begins as an imaginary obituary in the liner notes, and will expand online in the coming weeks and months. (Tangentially: there's perhaps one other Massachusetts writer who could've written a short story about hard-brawling townies, but Andre Dubus III was already working on his own: see Nina MacLaughlin's moving, moody profile of Dubus here.) On the day we interviewed McDonald about the fake obit he wrote for DKM, he was in the middle of gathering quotes for a real obit . . . TKTKKT. On Tuesday, as we shipped this issue up to the printer, the Murphys dedicated the album's "Take 'Em Down" (and the proceeds from a t-shirt based on its lyrics) to TKTKTKTK. A couple of weeks hence, they'll be back to lead the biggest punk-rock St. Patrick's Day party in American history. And -- this is just a guess -- it would probably take an act of Congress -- or a Tea Party fillibuster -- to prevent the Grammy committee from putting the Murphys and the Boss onstage next year around this time.