Tag Archives: Red House Painters

The State of Music – Part 3

17 Apr

Well, we have made it to the long string of states that start with “M”, but I promise that we will get through it and move over to the “N” ones. I must confess that this project has become more tedious than I anticipated. However, I have happened upon some decent performers and songs. Without further adieu, here goes it with the next ten:

Massachusetts – Most remember the Bee Gees from the disco era, but they had a long and fruitful career before delving into that nonsense. One of their better songs was “Massachusetts”, and I choose it for a couple of reasons. One, I like it. Second, the Bee Gees have faced past tragedies and are going through another. Robin Gibb is currently in a coma; Maurice Gibb died almost a decade ago; Andy Gibb, the youngest brother, died in the late 1980s; and Barry Gibb bought Johnny Cash’s home (which is not too far away from me) only to have it destroyed by fire a short time later.

Michigan – This one comes straight from my iPod. I realize that “1823 S. Michigan Ave.” is not really named after the state. But, they name streets after states, so it has to count for something. Besides that, it is a cool tune by Magic Slim.

Minnesota – This one was a little tricky because I really couldn’t find anything. I did find some newspaper articles about how there aren’t many songs about Minnesota. However, I kept on searching and found a not-so-good song by Northern Light called – surprise – “Minnesota”. It’s weird to hear a Beach Boy-ish sound about a place with no beach.

Mississippi – There are a lot of Mississippi songs in a lot of different genres and by a lot of great artists. They range from social commentary to comedy, but I am going with something off the regular path. Mountain recorded “Mississippi Queen” about a prostitute, and, since I have written about the history of prostitution, it seemed fitting. Maybe that should be my next musical project – the best songs about whores.

Missouri – I am going more modern with this pick. Several weeks ago, I saw a David Nail, a new country artist that doesn’t sound very country. That’s the kind of country artist I like. He sang a song named for his home state of “Missouri”.

Montana – There is a herd of cowboy songs about Montana, and, as a historian of the American West, something inside makes me think I should pick one. I am not going to do that, though. Cowboy songs are kind of hokey to me. With that in mind, I choose “Hey Montana” by Eve 6 about a girl who needs to return to the mentioned state. By the way, Montana is one of my all time favorite states, and we are working on a “male family members” only trip this summer.

Nebraska – Known for corn, football and…that’s about it, Nebraska, like many others, has not inspired many songwriters. After a long and wandering search, I found a Josh Rouse singing “Dressed Up Like Nebraska”. It’s a rough video and tough to hear, but the song seems quite good.

Nevada – Las Vegas songs. Reno songs. Even songs about Hoover Dam. There are all kinds of songs about places within Nevada, but there is one excellent song named after Nevada. To preface, I will listen to anything by Mark Knopfler, and he had a record called “Sands of Nevada”.

New Hampshire – Going in, I thought this would be one of the hardest to get. As it turns out, it wasn’t difficult at all because Sonic Youth had a song called “New Hampshire”.

New Jersey – I found out one thing for sure. There are bunches of songs that refer to Jersey. However, I need the Jersey with the New in front of it and have found it with Red House Painters. I didn’t know this group before the state project began, but, when I heard it, I immediately downloaded “New Jersey”.

I am sixty percent into an alphabetized list of states and have used some good songs and some not so good songs. Honestly, I can’t wait to see what I find with the next two installments. To catch up with the states already covered, check out Part 1 and Part 2.