Sunday, 17 January 2010

State Songs #22: Massachusetts

When I started my State Songs series at the start of 2009 I anticipated that "We'll be in Wyoming by Christmas!" How optimistic.

For one reason or another it's been more than four months since the last one, Maryland, so next December now looks like a more realistic end to the trip. I will endeavour to pick up the pace in the coming weeks though.

Before we get on to the songs, here's some trivia I gleaned from the Massachusetts Citizens Information Service.

  • Massachusetts takes its name from the Massachusett tribe of Native Americans, who lived in the Great Blue Hill region, south of Boston. The Indian term supposedly means "at or about the Great Hill".

  • The Chocolate Chip Cookie was designated the official cookie of the Commonwealth on July 9, 1997. A third grade class from Somerset proposed the bill to honor the cookie invented in 1930 at the Toll House Restaurant in Whitman.

  • The Garter Snake became the official reptile of the Commonwealth on January 3, 2007.

MP3: Arlo Guthrie - Massachusetts

One of the best things about this State Songs series is receiving emails and comments offering suggestions for future posts. Last January a chap called Jeff Boudreau got in touch to tell me about this song. It originally appeared on Arlo Guthrie's 1976 album Amigo and in 1981 Massachusetts adopted it as its official State Folk Song.
Buy Amigo: Amazon

MP3: Patti Page - Old Cape Cod

In small doses I am a sucker for this sort of 50s schmaltz. Patti is probably most famous for the track that's routinely trotted out as indicative of how bland music was before rock'n'roll - How Much Is That A Doggie In The Window? What fewer people might know is that, born Clara Ann Flower, Patti is a real Okie from Muskogee.
Buy The Best of Patti Page: Amazon | 7digital

MP3: Hallelujah the Hills - Wave Backwards to Massachusetts

I discovered Hallelujah the Hills last year via Largehearted Boy. "A blizzard, a mallard, a stillborn Chinese baby speaking backwards" is a great opening line and the track reminds me of 90s indie, a la Neutral Milk Hotel et al which is never a bad thing.
Buy Collective Psychosis: Amazon | 7digital

MP3: The Hackensaw Boys - Harvard Square Breakdown

The Oxford American introduced me to The Hackensaw Boys a few years ago thanks to their superb annual music issue. This is from the band's debut album Get Some, which was recorded on reel-to-reel in their living room in 2000. Fans of Old Crow Medicine Show and The Avett Brothers should certainly investigate further.
Buy Get Some: Amazon

MP3: Jonathan Richman - Twilight in Boston

I never need an excuse to post some Jonathan Richman and he's in fine form in this guided tour of the town he's most associated with. Modern Lovers fans who tend to stick to the 70s material are missing out if they lack a copy of 1992's return to form I, Jonathan.
Buy I, Jonathan: Amazon

As usual, let me know what you think of the selections, which of your favourites I've missed and what songs I should include in the future. Next time we'll be in Michigan.

Neighbouring States
State Songs #7: Connecticut

The Journey So Far
State Songs - links to every post on this musical road trip


Sam said...

Good stuff as ever Nigel. Stick with it.

My dad has always been amused by an old Kenny Everett joke about the Beegees which I have never quite got. Something to do with them having a 'mass o' chew sets'.

Anonymous said...

He that travels far knows much...................................................

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