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I’ll Keep On Driving These Dark Highway Lines: The 52 State Pick-Up Mix, Part 10

November 27, 2010

Last week was all about the west, but this week we’ve found our way back to the east coast and some of the original colonies.  I put off some of these mid-Atlantic and New England states, thinking it would be hard to find songs with Massachusetts and Connecticut in the title, but more often then not, I had two or three strong contenders for each state.  There’s a touch of classic American swing, Celtic punk, fcked up white boys rapping, Canadian indie pop, and the lady from Ally McBeal.  Enjoy!

Massachusetts

I’ve had a song for this state for a long time:  Juliana Hatfield Three’s “Feelin’ Massachusetts”, a track from her 1993 album and a nod to my early 90s college rock phase.  Sadly there was no video, official, fan, or otherwise, and I was planning on just uploading it myself, but I started researching around other Massachusetts songs, and came across the Dropkick Murphys tune.  They are patron saints of the Boston area, with their Irish folk/Celtic punk sound, nonstop touring, and massive St. Patrick’s Day concerts.  I can’t imagine ever attending one, but, they seem more representative of the Bay State, and so it wins.  “The State of Massachusetts” in the title is not about the region but about child services taking your kids.

Connecticut

Speaking of white people with problems, the Constitution state was also between two songs:  the first was Carly Simon’s The Wives Are In Connecticut.  This song is an 80s boppy keyboard happy song that doesn’t quite have the gravitas and pathos of “That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be”, unfortunately.  I don’t hate all of 80s Carly Simon (I see you, This is My Life soundtrack), but this song was really just a compromise because she namechecks the state.  Then I stumbled upon Cage, part of the boys of Definitive Jux, a dude with a messed up parental life that led to forced institutionalized and copious drug use.  When Eminem’s Slim Shady persona came out, Cage was mad that his shtick got bit and blew up before him.  Cage has since cleaned up his act (well, except for smoking weed), he’s friends with lots of the NYC underground, like Pharaoahe Monche and KMD, and showing up on Kid Cudi’s sophomore album.  There’s also rumors of a movie of his life being made, starring Shia LaBoef as Cage.  I’m trying not to hold that against him.

Pennsylvania

This one might be obvious, but I prefer the term “classic”.  Glenn Miller’s Orchestra is quintessential American sound, and there’s a history lesson involved despite only having one line of lyrics:  Pennsylvania 6-5000.  That was a phone number, kids.  I don’t know this because I was old enough to use it, I’m just old enough to be a Jimmy Stewart fan and so I’ve seen the movie about Glenn Miller’s life starring him.  The Keystone State almost got Billy Joel’s Allentown for it’s track, so you can either thank me or chastise me for changing my mind.

Maryland

I have never lived in The Old Line State, though I actually was born in Bethesda, at the Army Navy Hospital (aka “the President’s Hospital”).  My father was working at the Pentagon the year I was born, and we lived in Virginia, but it was a fairly short drive over the state line to Maryland.  There aren’t too many songs about the state, which is sad, so perhaps I’ll write an ode to the delicious crabs of Chesapeake Bay.  In the meantime, I will indulge my smooth pop tastes and select Vonda Shepard’s tune.  I’ll probably never be what my daddy wanted me to be either, but you go home anyway.

Delaware

The First State is named as such because they were indeed the first to ratify the constitution and become a state.  An auspicious start to this country?  It’s hard to say either way, I know so little about Delaware, really.  I’ve driven through the state many times, but never stayed for very long.  I did learn this holiday weekend, through the magic of cable at my parent’s house, that there’s an annual event held there called Punkin Chunkin, where teams design different style of homemade machines to see who can chuck a pumpkin the furthest.  I only saw about an hour of it, but some of those gourds were going close to 2,000 feet before exploding like a Gallagher watermelon.   This song is by the Canadian band City & Colour (hence the spelling) and never actually mentions the state in the song, it is about missing somebody at home, while being on the road.  It seemed appropriate to pick a song about driving through the state, since that is probably the most common experience people associate with Delaware.

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How’d I do New Englanders?

There’s only 3 states, one capitol, and one island commonwealth to go in the mixtape, so thanks for tuning in along the way.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 27, 2010 11:16 am

    I remember seeing an episode of “Captain Kangaroo” as a kid that featured a song sung by kids that went: “M-A-double S-A-C-H-U-S-E double T-S… ((blah blah blah))… Massachusetts my home state!” I was impressed first of all that there was a song that taught you how to spell Massachusetts and that it was sung by kids at a really rapid rate. However, I never heard the song again anywhere, and I suppose it was a Kangaroo exclusive? I was hoping that it had found its way to youtube, but alas, it seems to be gone forever.

    Vonda Shepard is sorta in my circle, since her dad was a circus performer, mime, stand-up comic and more. I’ve never actually met either of them (I don’t think…), but I do have a bit of a sweet spot for Vonda, despite her “Ally McBeal” connections! Vonda has a great voice and I feel should have had a much bigger career than she did. Maybe having to sing those covers for Ally every week stole the best years of her recording life?

    I thought you might go with the Bloodhound Gang’s “tribute” to Pennsylvania, which of course was an hilarious and really critical view of things around and about that state… but I’m glad you didn’t! I won’t link it here just because, but maybe someone somewhere will seek it out. And damn those Sony people for not letting us have the playback! I mean, Glenn Miller predates Sony!

  2. evmaroon permalink
    November 27, 2010 1:52 pm

    I love that your parents drove over state lines to the maternity ward in Maryland. I have two lesbian friends who when they were pregnant (okay, only one of them was with child) were told in no uncertain terms by their adoption lawyer to stay out of virginia, lest the child be born there.

    Great pick of Vonda Shepard for Maryland! I never lived there, either, but I had jobs in Bethesda and Baltimore and so I’ve spent a hell of a lot of time there, hon.

    I for one am grateful you didn’t go with Billy Joel for Pennsylvania, though the song is in my head now.

  3. November 27, 2010 2:01 pm

    Nice choice of the Dropkick Murphys! Their contribution to “The Departed” was one of the best ways to set the mood and convince me that I was watching a Boston movie and not another of Scorsese’s New York numbers.

  4. November 27, 2010 2:55 pm

    Nice choice of the Dropkick Murphys! Their contribution to “The Departed” was one of the best ways to set the mood and convince me that I was watching a Boston movie and not another of Scorsese’s New York numbers!!!

    Seriously. They played at my college some years back. It totally quite the spectacle. I don’t think those boring hippies were ready for the DK Murphys!

  5. December 1, 2010 3:40 pm

    I actually liked Vonda Shepard’s work on Ally McBeal. She really classed up the joint.

  6. Ron Newman permalink
    July 1, 2012 11:02 am

    I found the Massachusetts song from Captain Kangaroo described here:

    http://zorchv38.blogspot.com/2008/10/campaign-records-and-mostly.html

    with audio uploaded here:

    https://www.box.com/shared/1lzu3m607j

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