Thursday, July 17, 2008

Songs of the Fifty States: Alabama to Georgia

I haven't forgotten...

Alabama - Neil Young

Kicking off the list is a demanding job, but Alabama does us proud with lots of songs to choose between (go here for another two...or at least two different versions of the same song). Neil Young takes us in his very capable hands to start proceedings. Lynard Skynard and Sweet Home Alabama were never really seriously entertained.

North to Alaska - Johnny Horton

Alaska was another state that I tackled over at Star Maker Machine - so head across there for a few further tracks, including another Johnny Horton song, as performed by Johnny Cash and June Carter. This Horton track is a cracker, and was even covered by Ted Hawkins. Plenty to get your teeth into for the largest state of all. But does anyone else think it kind of sounds like he's singing "McNuggets they're finding"??

This bonus track is my other half a rule-break (see this song list for the rules) - I posted it myself, as a supplementary track, at SMM, so it did appear on the main page...but seeing as it was me that posted it, it only half counts, right? It's just too lovely not to also include here...I love Camera Obscura and Tracyanne Campbell's voice.

Arizona - Alejandro Escovedo

Mr Escovedo (watch out for an upcoming review of his latest album Real Animal, plus several other worthwhile recent releases...if I ever actually get around to it!) provides us with a smashing song here, and there were no others that I seriously toyed with posting. In this sultry song you can almost see the shimmering evening heat haze. George Strait's Ocean Front Property in Arizona is also pretty good, as is Dan Fogelberg's Tuscon, Arizona (all 8 minutes 36 seconds of it!) and Jake Matthews' Arizona On My Mind.

When I started to plan these posts, I was almost convinced on posting Gossip's song Arkansas Heat, but I decided to try to find a decent country song, and keep with the theme. Jesse Dayton has done us proud, amping things up a notch for this state that can count 'What a State!' as one of its nicknames!

Goodbye California - Jolie Holland

The Left Coast really leaves us spoilt for choice, with more songs than you can shake a stick at...and a lot of great ones at that. In fact, I think it was the state that provided me with the toughest choices with regards what I was not able to include. Gram Parsons, Kathleen Edwards, Liz Phair, The Ramones, Roy Orbison and Sarah Slean were amongst those that I grudgingly had to cut from the list. This is Jolie Holland at her peak, her lazy jazzy-bluesy-country voice lackadaisically ambling through the tune. If you had not heard her music before, I reckon that this would be enough to make you fall in love with it...but beware! Stick with her first two albums, Catalpa and Escondida, however, and you really can't go wrong.

With so many marvellous songs to choose from, I really couldn't leave it at just one, and so here is a second courtesy of the legendary Mama Cass. A classic slice, if not one of her better known tracks.

Colorado Girl - Townes Van Zandt

The first track that I thought of for Colorado was The Flying Burrito Brothers and Colorado, but SMM beat me to it once again! Never mind, as in addition to the great song above, I could also have chosen Merle Haggard, Hank Snow, John Denver, Ozark Mountain Daredevils or Railroad Earth...and they are just the ones that would have been worthy of inclusion. It took far too long for me to discover Townes Van Zandt, but once I did that was it! And this is a beautiful, sweet and tender song, which clearly trumped the rest.

Connecticut - Judy Garland

I shall not lie - Connecticut was perhaps the toughest state of all. There just don't seem to be many songs dedicated to it. In fact, other than Superchunk and Connecticut, there really weren't any tracks that I liked. Except, that is, for Ms Garland! Well, I couldn't rightly call myself a homo without including her somewhere, eh? It sure ain't country music but, hell, this is the best it gets, I'm afraid!

Hmmm...what else can I tell you about this state? Well, the name 'Connecticut' comes from the Mohegan word 'quinnitukqut', which means 'place of the long tidal river'. A person from Connecticut can be referred to as a Connecticuter, a Connecticotian, Connecticutensian, or even a Nutmegger or Yankee (the official State Song is Yankee Doodle). Or how about Connecticutie? Which is a term that never ever should be used for a certain George Walker Bush, who was born there!

Dover, Delaware - The Duhks

Delaware became the very first state on December 7th 1787. Curiously, it was one of the last to be covered over at Star Maker Machine (with a further four tracks). This would seem to be because there are just not that many good songs about Delaware. This Dukhs one, however, is an exception, and it just lovely.

Floridays - Jimmy Buffett

I really like this song, but if any sticklers out there should feel that it does not count due to the fact that the word 'Florida' is not discrete in the title, then maybe you will be appeased with a bonus track...

A live cut of perhaps the noisiest song on this whole list. A nice change, or a complete bastardisation when it comes to theme, feel and rules? I shall let you decide. (P.s. I love the Butthole Surfers, personally)

The obvious choice when it comes to Georgia would be Ray Charles with Georgia On My Mind, a song that pretty much can not be beaten. It is so fantastic, in fact, that it was adopted as the official state song in 1979. But did you know that it was not origianlly about the state at all, but a woman named Georgia? The music was written by Hoagy Carmichael, and the lyrics by Stuart Gorrell about Carmichael's sister. It has been covered by innumerable artists, but there is truly none so great as the late Mr Charles.

The song in question, then, was of course a second choice. But this does not mean that it is not a great song. It is.

I just couldn't get out of this list without a spot of Charlie Daniels! Here we are with the final 'added extra' novelty song. Leaving the list on a Charlie Daniels note? So you think...just watch!


Paul said...

Very impressive. Here’s another Georgia song that I think you would like: The Gosdin Brothers - Georgia

Divinyl said...

I like it very much. Thanks are introducing me to some really great stuff! :o)