Fourth of July? Songs about parades and processions

By The Landlord


“Man is a military animal, glories in gunpowder, and loves parade.” – Philip James Bailey, poet

“If you’re not in the parade, you watch the parade. That’s life.” – Mike Ditka, American footballer

“I’m the happiest when I’m in the studio, not on a beauty parade.” – FKA Twigs

Parades and processions – an expression, with people coming together, of the joys, hopes, triumphs and tragedies of the human race, of mixed emotions, from war to civil rights, black power to gay pride, Labor Day to union workers, weddings to funerals, religious and sports occasions to military might to floral and music festivals. It is no wonder that they are a snapshot of society coming together, and great topic for songwriters. 

And It’s the big day, the fourth of July. Why? Well today the Philippines celebrates its Republic Day to commemorate 1946 when it ceased to be a US territory and it became officially independent after a long-drawn out process of territorial oppression after the Philippine–American War ended on the same date in 1903. And on this date in 1918 the Bolsheviks killed Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family, leading to the Russian Revolution. In 1914 it was also the date of the  funeral of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Vienna, six days after their assassinations in Sarajevo, an event that led to the First World War. In 1910  African-American boxer Jack Johnson knocks out great white hope Jim Jeffries in a heavyweight match, sparking race riots across the US. On this date in 1894 the Republic of Hawaii is proclaimed, before being later subsumed as America’s 50th state, with the debut of the 50-star flag in Philadelphia in 1960. And in 1826, Thomas Jefferson, the third US president dies on exactly the same date, 4th July as the second president, John Adams.

Sign here, please

Sign here, please

The deaths of these two men ironically coincided with the 50th anniversary of another fourth of July, in 1976, the official date of the signing of the US Declaration of Independence, an event celebrated today with what many call “Christmas and barbecues with fireworks”, or as some have joked,  “it celebrates our defeating the aliens that blew up the White House after Will Smith attacks”. It’s ironic also that the actual signing, led by John Hancock, was possibly on 2 July, and by some of the 58 others as long as a month later. The Declaration was a statement adopted by the Second Continental Congress, meeting at the Pennsylvania State House, spurring the War of Independence. Independence was declared but it wasn’t won until much later. Mind you, it’s an impressive, important document, written with gravitas:.

Declaration of Independence 4th July 1776

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