Sunday, 8 March 2009
Photo © Grufnik @ Flickr
Yes, I know that the District of Columbia is not a state but these songs are so great that omitting Washington, DC from our musical tour around America would be unforgivable. Unsurprisingly the majority of tracks have a political edge but don't let that put you off.
MP3: Magnetic Fields - Washington, DC
"It's the only place to be" sings Claudia Gonson on the Magnetic Fields' humorous tribute to the Nation's Capital. According to the excellent 69 Love Songs wiki Stephin Merritt has claimed the Bay City Rollers' Saturday Night as the influence on the song's brilliant cheerleader opening.
More Magnetic Fields: official site | Amazon| 7digital
MP3: The Staple Singers - Long Walk to DC
I love the Staples and their 1968 Stax debut, Soul Folk in Action, is a classic. This song has added resonance when you think that it was recorded just a few months after the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.
More Staple Singers: Wikipedia | Amazon | 7digital
MP3: Leadbelly - Bourgeois Blues
Leadbelly recorded this in 1938 after Alan Lomax invited him to Washington to make recordings for the Library of Congress. It's inspired by an evening that Leadbelly and his wife spent with the Lomaxes out on the town when they were kicked out of various establishments for being an interracial group. Billy Bragg laster used the song as the basis for his Bush War Blues.
More Leadbelly: Wikipedia | Amazon | 7digital
MP3: Parliament - Chocolate City
This is George Clinton relishing the fact that America's capital city has a majority black population and looking forward to when Aretha Franklin is First Lady and Richard Pryor's the Secretary for Education. Wikipedia has a good entry about the album that explores other "cultural references" to the idea of the chocolate city.
More Parliament: official site | Amazon | 7digital
By the way, if you're ever in Washingon, DC and don't know which Smithsonian museum to visit my favourite is the National Museum of American History - home to the M*A*S*H signpost, Einstein's brier pipe and Dizzy Gillespie's trumpet.
Next time we'll be slapping on the Copppertone and heading straight down I-95 to the Sunshine State - Florida.
State Songs - links to every post on this musical road trip