Monday, May 26, 2008

Top 5 Songs with State Names (or Similar Approximations) in Their Titles (West of the Mississippi River Edition):

In honor of Memorial Day, I thought I'd do something American, but my original idea was far far too expansive, there are a lot of songs with states in their titles. So I've split the country in two far more efficiently than the Democratic primaries.

Top 5 Songs with State Names (or Postal Abbreviations) in Their Titles (West of the Mississippi Edition):

Tim's Top 5
1. Dead Kennedys – California Uber Alles - The entire album is stunningly good, and I can't really pretend to be a punk guy at heart, since the only punk bands I listen to have sold a million albums...which is about as non-punk as you can get. But this is a masterpiece, a song that's about state politics that is still timeless for people who barely even recall Jerry Brown's aborted run for the presidency in 1992. No one has even come close to mastering Jello Biafra's gift of musical irony, and while it's not on the same level as Kill the Poor, this is untouchable.

2. The Old 97’s - W. TX Teardrops - If there's a song more meant for Murry Hammond, I've not heard it. Reminiscent of Buddy Holly's work with Bob Montgomery, but still blissfully original and quaint.

3. Phantom Planet – California – You can thank XM for inspiring the list by playing this song, a song I’ve forgotten a dozen more times than I’ve heard, but I always enjoy being reminded of its existence. While Phantom Planet continues on as a band even after the fame of Jason Schwartzman has waned, this is the first and last song I’ll likely encounter from them. It’s best not to risk their sterling reputation.

4. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Oregon Girl – a very simplistic pop song, I’d forgotten I’d ever heard until I began compiling this list.

5. Groucho Marx – Omaha, Nebraska – If I ever became a 1930-1940s comedian, this would have been a standard for me. The first line says all you really need to know -- “There’s a place called Omaha, Nebraska, in the foothills of Tennessee”.

2Pac – California Love; Red Hot Chili Peppers – Dani California; Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska;

Dan's Top 5:

1. Stevie Ray Vaughan - Texas Flood - S.R.V. his the guitar player's guitar hero, and he single-handedly made the blues cool again in the 80's. He did it with this song. Probably the best example ever recorded of excellent blues guitar work. As a testament to that fact, it was included on the original Guitar Hero, back before the series of video games became so immensely and irreparably popular.

2. Led Zeppelin - Going to California - One of those Led Zeppelin songs that are really appreciated by true fans of the band, rather than people who have listened to "Whole Lotta Love" over and over again and claimed to be fans. Featured in the movie Almost Famous, so it scores even more points.

3. The Eagles - Hotel California - OK, since I apparently failed at geography (Damn you, Carmen Sandiego) I'm putting this song in despite the fact that it features California a second time on this list... what a tyrannical state. I'm surprised I missed it the first time around, though, because it was the first popular song I ever listened to of my own free will (it was Summer, 1999 - back when I thought the fourth Beatle was George Hamilton). I have to credit this song with being kickass enough to get me into more rock music, but laid back enough to not be turned off to rock entirely (something harder like Nirvana surely would have done so at the time). Also, the solo still kicks major ass.

4. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Louisiana Rain - I first found out about this song in order to fill out this list. Of course, I could have resorted to using a bunch of "California" songs, but I feel like that's almost cheating. Anyway, I figure that any song by Tom Petty is good enough to make the list, so I'm glad he chose to include an oft-overlooked state.

5. Billy Joel - Stop in Nevada - Same method of discovery as #4. It's from Piano Man, so it's guaranteed to be better than most of the rest of his songs. Upon listening, I'm convinced that the only reason I've never heard of it is that it was never promoted as a single. It's actually pretty decent.

Honorable mentions - pretty much anything else with "California" e.g., Phantom Planet - California, The Mamas & The Papas - California Dreamin', R.E.M. - I Remember California, The Ramones - California Sun (someone else's song, but their version is the best), Decemberists - California One Youth and Beauty Brigade, and so on.

Ryan's Top Five

1. "Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey Hey" - The Beatles - There's quite a few versions of this song by lots of famous people. I like the Beatles. (I'm also taking liberties with the "state name in title of song" rule...I suppose "Kansas City" isn't a state [though I'm in favor of losing the rest of Missouri in favor of just KC].) Anyway, this is a great 50s/60s rock standard.

2. "Hawaii Five-0" - The Ventures - If only for that intro drum, which is pretty fucking awesome. Dun dun dun dun dun DUN! Doo doo doo doo doooo doooo! Doo doo doo dooo dooo!

3. "California" - Phantom Planet - I actually prefer "West Coast" by Jason Schwartzman's other band, Coconut Records (I'm sorry, but it's the same basic song). This one also loses points for its association with "The OC." Still though, a solid alternative song.

4. "California Girls" - The Beach Boys - It's hard not to pick all the California songs for this list, essentially because there's so many compared to the rest of the states. West of the Mississippi is difficult; as Demetri Martin points out, the easier it is to draw a state, the harder it is to live there. "Culture is attracted to squiggles." In any event, I do like The Beach Boys, and this is one of their best.

5. "Lawrence, KS" - Josh Ritter - This one in lieu of "Hotel California" by The Eagles, which I don't like nearly as much as I used to (and I hate The Eagles).

Honorables - Everyone else's honorables and top 5 songs.


Roughly Speaking... said...

Dan, #3 is invalid, Illinois is east of the Mississippi River, which forms the state's border with Iowa.

Vulpes Ryanis said...

Good topic...I will be posting soon...

Dan said...

OK, I corrected my list and succumbed to California yet again.