I recently switched my driver’s license from PA to NY. Having lived in Japan for 18 years I’m not actually a resident of any state, but upstate New York is now my homebase when I go back for a visit. It’s really just a matter of convenience, but I look forward to my exalted status as a New Yorker. Imagine – a place that people actually write songs about! Not that I’m particularly in love with any of those songs. If I were to choose a state simply based on a song it would probably have to be “Kentucky“. But I guess true statriotism has to be based on actual residency, and I’ve only ever lived in three states: PA, DE and NJ.
Recently a workmate introduced me to a band called Zebra Hunt who have a nice power poppy sound. I especially love the first song on their first album, which just so happens to be called “Delaware”. New York has been lauded in songs by music industry titans from Frank Sinatra to Billy Joel … the rest of the mid-Atlantic region not so much, especially the tiniest member of all. So I was quite pleased to hear a tune about the Diamond State that I actually liked.
Then just yesterday I checked out Apple Music’s suggestions “just for me” and found a Woodsist greatest hits playlist – had to give that a spin. It contained the song “Pennsylvania” by John Andrews & The Yawns, which reminds me somewhat of the great Southern and Appalachian songs about places. This experience made me feel like I should check out Apple’s recommended section a bit more often, and sent me on a quest to find a song about New Jersey …
Beyond Bon Jovi and Bruce the options are few, but my search yielded an absolute gem by Red House Painters. I’ve never really been able to get into Mark Kozelek’s stuff, but like the Garden State Parkway shuttling summer vacationgoers “down the shore,” this song may just serve as my route in. Glad I stumbled upon this “second version” first – the earlier take isn’t nearly as good.
Sufjan Stevens only got two albums into his “50 States” recording project before calling it quits. It’s hard enough to find one decent song about a state that someone else wrote, let along write 10-12 good new songs by yourself all about one state. But I’m surprised how well these 3 songs work as a playlist. Might have to try and expand it to the whole country, or at least the Eastern seaboard.