Saturday, July 5, 2008

Songs of the Fifty States: New Mexico to South Carolina




Here's one about The Land of Enchantment, the 47th US state. "Who is K.C. Groves?", I hear you ask. She is one quarter of Uncle Earl...a bloomin' excellent band. Also considered: Jah Wobble's New Mexico Dub. But I decided that, whilst I rather like Jah Wobble, it really does seem to have very little to do with New Mexico, given that there are no words...and it most definitely is not country music. Perhaps it is intended to 'evoke the spirit of New Mexico' or some such mumbo jumbo; but as I have never been there and am not that emotionally intelligent, we'll pass on this occasion! Still worth a listen if you can track it down though.



The Only Living Boy In New York - Simon and Garfunkel

New York was a somewhat tricky little number, with the majority of songs being about the infamous city, as opposed to the state as a whole. This one's ambiguous...whilst it is more than likely about NYC, it doesn't say so specifically and, well, it's a lovely song. The story goes that Paul Simon (perhaps my very favourite songwriter) wrote it when Art Garfunkel pissed off to Mexico to film Catch 22, leaving Simon to do the predominance of the writing for the album Bridge Over Troubled Water. 'Tom', here, is Garfunkel...a nod to the days when they were known as Tom and Jerry. The only other track that I seriously considered here was Tori Amos and I Can't See New York...but that would seem to be about death and dying!



North Carolina - The Devil Makes Three

A North Carolinian song from a Californian band. I think I found this in my research for this post, and don't have any other tracks by them...but if this serves as an example, I am definitely going to have to pay closer attention! A lovely, simple modern bluegrass entry.

The first song that came to mind for this state, and the second I thought of for this 'theme' altogether, was North Dakota by Lyle Lovett...a truly gorgeous song. That was posted over at SMM however, and seeing as there was a decent alternative I had to stick to the rules! I did toy with posting a live version of the Lovett song, but I decided that that would still be cheating. Whilst very little can match Lovett, I think that this is still a very good substitute.



Dayton, Ohio 1903 -Randy Newman

Mr Newman's only appearance (dem dars the rules) - it's a good song...Louisiana 1927's even better, but unfortunately that was posted over at 'the other side' (damn you SMMers!). Equally, he could have shown his face in Kentucky (My Old Kentucky Home), but seeing as there a massive number of Kentucky songs to choose from, and fewer for The Buckeye State, I decided that he would be put to better use here instead! I decided against Look At Miss Ohio by Gillian Welch, despite it being a most excellent tune. Also not quite qualifying was Porter Wagoner's The Banks of the Ohio, as it is about the river rather than the state. I have also read that CocoRosie do a cover of Damian Jurado's Ohio, but sadly I don't have a copy of that.



My Oklahoma Home - Bruce Springsteen

Again, although a good song, a second choice - my first was The Kinks' Oklahoma U.S.A., another one that SMM beat me to (it was only fair to let the theme over there wind up before I made my final decisions/postings...particularly as, although I have thought of covering the states before, it is Paul's decision to focus on it there that has resulted in me actually getting around to it!). But this is perhaps more fitting...it is Springsteen in country mode (which I much prefer, as his rock output has somehow always failed to move me and has never really got under my skin).



I Must Be in Oregon - Greg Brown

In researching these posts, before deciding on the final format and what prose to include, I looked up everything from state nicknames to state mottoes and slogans to state flowers and birds! Have a look over the list of official state insignia...state dinosaurs anyone? Oregon, or The Beaver State (fnar), won the 'best motto' competition with "She flies with her own wings". Brown is from Iowa and another of his songs, Iowa Waltz, was unsuccessfully proposed as a new official state song for Iowa...or so says Wikipedia. I love his low, slightly gruff, almost Leonard Cohen style vocals here.

If this week has taught me one thing, it is that there are some truly dreadful Pennsylvania songs out there! However, I like this one, with its Disney-esque intro and innocent lyrics about needing to find a way back into the arms of his "angel".



Rhode Island - Show People

Whilst my first choice for this state would have been Erin McKeown singing Rhode Island is Famous For You (I have a feeling that this particular post contains more second choices than any other, although I still think that it is a pretty strong set; it is also the only one of this series not to contain any 'bonus tracks'), that was another song swiped from underneath my nose by fellow SMM contributor Boyhowdy. I suppose I should really thank him, however, as without that I would not have discovered this lovely alternative for the smallest state (whose motto almost rivals Oregon's - it is simply "Hope").



South Carolina Low Country - Josh Turner

Of all the songs I selected for this theme, this is the one that has continued to play its way around my head when away from my computer. I particularly love that "low" is sung as a low note - simple things! I had a tough time deciding between this and The Outlaws' South Carolina, but when I kept finding myself singing this one, I knew that it had won.


Arrived here from The Hype Machine? I would love it if you took the time to leave a comment! :o)

5 comments:

Gill said...

Fell in through a hole at STWOF sometime yesterday, still wandering around with a big cheesy grin. You got a bar here - drinks on me, love this place ! Weird Al Yankovich.....Josh Turner....don`t you people know I got a job to go to !

gill said...

...and now Ted Hawkins...will follow your advice and buy The Last Tour..if I get another wage packet.

Divinyl said...

Ha ha! Hey Gill, and welcome :o) Glad you like the site! G&T (with a slice of lime) for me please ;o) Next round's on me!

The Final Tour (not sure why it's called 'The Last Tour' on Amazon) is a great album...I really think you won't regret it if you liked the tracks I posted in the Ted Hawkins piece. It provides a great overview and shows him off at his natural (i.e. live) best.

This is what music blogging is all about! Discourse and introducing people to something new, encouraging them to buy music!

I do hope you stick around (or at least come back for a visit once in a while)...you are a very welcome visitor indeed :oD

boyhowdy said...

Why am I not surprised that Divinyl and I drink the same thing?

Nice set so far, D...amazing to think we could have run the whole theme twice with no worries!

a passer by said...

Thank you for posting "The Only Loving Boy in New York." it is beautiful. It is the song that I WISH is playing every time a Simon and Garfunkel songs comes up on shuffle on my IPod!