Sunday, June 29, 2008

Fifty States at Star Maker Machine

This week's theme at Star Maker Machine is Fifty States. The goal is to post at least one song about each state over the next week.

As a lifelong resident of Michigan, I took on the Great Lake state. It wasn't easy because Michigan--despite its excellent music tradition--isn't the subject of many songs.

Here's a great one about a city in Michigan:

Lefty Frizzell - Saginaw, Michigan (buy album)

This picture is what Michigan means to me:


Anonymous said...

I must admit to being pleasantly surprised by this Lefty song. I've always loved Hank and more recently
have found a growing fondness for Webb Pierce but for some reason never really took to Lefty Frizzell
before. But hearing this song has certainly persuaded me to give Lefty another chance.
As for songs about States, my brother is off to California tomorrow and has asked me to do a compilation for the journey. The amount of songs I've found relating
to California is astounding, 'Cali-
fornia Bloodlines' 'California Sun'
and 'Nevada, California' to name but a few. Is there any other State(maybe Texas) that has as many songs tied to it's name?

Paul said...

I think the top states for having the most songs about them are Texas, California, Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama. If "Carolina" were a state, it would be high too. Almost all New York songs are about the city and most Mississippi songs are about the river.

Lefty's catalog is definitely worth exploring. It's not as consistent as Hank's, but its big and full of good songs.

godoggo said...

Yeah, lots more songs about cities and towns - of which, ahem, this is really an example (albeit a nice one, and hey! I have this, on that "Country Classics" CD that my mom gave me after finding it in someone's trash...she has some odd habits). Lots of Detroit songs, though. I'm thinking the MC5, Kiss, Funkadelic , and, of course, Lilly Tomlin.

Anyway...Iowa Waltz, by Greg Brown!!! Dunno where I got the idea that he was from North Dakota.

Dave said...

Robbie Fulks' 'Cigarette State' is an ode to North Carolina, and includes the classic line

Alabama's grand; the State, not the band.

Paul said...

godoggo - I would have posted Lefty's song over at SMM if it were a real state song, but you're right that it's more of a city song.

And I believe somebody did post the Greg Brown song today.

Paul said...

Dave - I love that Fulk's song. It's my favorite of his. About 10 years ago I saw him play it at the bar above the Rock'n'Bowl in Detroit. Excellent show.

Divinyl said...

You know I was talking about these themes making me obsessive??

I've spent the past two days researching and working on a list of my own whole 50 'state songs' to post in 10-song chunks over at my own blog. Precedence will be given to country music, and this track was on my list! (I am not going to duplicate from the SMM posts - although I may have to make an exception for 'Georgia On My Mind', as I was going to post it, and it's just too gorgeous to exclude, despite there being tonnes of Georgia songs).

Anyhoo, I have quite a few Michigan songs now, so will send you a few by e-mail when I've finished whittling down the songs I am going to post.

The hardest states? Connecticut and Kansas (shit loads of songs about Kansas City, but not the state...Missouri gets its own songs and can't be greedy!).

Iren said...

Sufjan Stevens did a whole album about Michigan... and one about IL as well... there is a great song just called Michigan by an artist called Nolan McKelevy (heard it on the Roots Rock Radio Show podcast a couple of months back)..

Dave D. said...

A couple of others come to mind, and it seems seems that certain artists have an affinity for 'state' songs. Johnny Horton had "When It's Spring Time in Alaska" and "North to Alaska", while country-ish John Denver had "Rocky Mountain High" and "I Guess He'd Rather Be in Colorado" for Colorado and "Take Me Home, Country Roads" for West Virginia.

Jordy said...

That beach photo makes me homesick.