Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Singing the red state...blues?

New York, New York
I Left My Heart (in San Francisco)”
My old Virginnie Home
California Dreaming
The bands Kansas, Boston, Chicago, and to some extent, Toto

The list could go on and on. So many states and locales have their own songs or bands bearing their name. Most of them (e.g. California, New York) have so many songs written about them (not even counting whiny acousitc songs that very few people, thankfully, ever hear) that you cannot even name them all.

Not Iowa.

Poor Iowa gets no love, whether it be from smart-alec big-town professors or from ironically named punk bands.

Hell, most people think we’re the potato state.

But there have been a few brave souls who’ve stood up and showed their pride in the home of quite possibly the nation’s worst president (take that, Texas!).

Of course, outside of Slipknot, you’ve never heard of any band from Iowa, much less anyone singing about Iowa. So I’ve compiled for you an entirely unthorough review of all songs about Iowa that can be downloaded conveniently off of limewire and their relevance to the Hawkeye state.

1) Iowa Nice--Meredith Wilson

Following the golden rule of artistic life, if you’re form the middle of nowhere, you have to make sure your opus is about the place you're from. And Meredith Wilson did not skip out on this obligation in the slightest, making an entire musical (Music Man, for those of you who haven’t caught on yet) about the 29th state.

Relevance to Iowa:

Excellently captures Iowans and our ability to be both nice and easily fooled by slick out-of-towners. Except now they sell meth instead of band uniforms.

2) Iowa--John Linnell

John is not from Iowa. Rather, he is from the annoying pop duo (and assumedly also soem sort of geographic region that's not Iowa), They Might be Giants. For those of you not familiar with TMBG, they’re the group that the semi-popular girl in your high school who’s bent on proving she’s different, but not too different, listens to.

Relevance to Iowa:

While the song does posit the entirely plausible notion that the state of Iowa is a witch, it incorrectly holds that as a state-witch we would cast spells on Vermont. We would do no such thing. All of our spells would be focused on New Hampshire, to add insult to injury. Think about it.

3) Iowa--Dar Williams

Soulful acoustic chick that somehow avoids the seemingly painfully obvious comparisons to Ani. Except she’s talented.

Relevance to Iowa:

Though it’s more of a love song, huge props to the fact that it could be set anywhere, but it’s set in Iowa. Also, successfully captures the fact that we’re modest folk out here.

4) The Truth About Iowa--Stretch Armstrong

Iowa is actually home to a surprisingly large amount of hardcore music (take it from a fella who knows), despite our humble and reserved ways, so this fits in well. Again, not from Iowa, but I love them for giving us love.

Relevance to Iowa:

Hard to say...is the song about an incident that happened in Iowa? Possibly. But it doesn’t take 18 hours to cross Iowa by car. It’s more like 4-5. But we do all treat each other like family, so it at least gets that right.

5) Iowa Waltz--Greg Brown

A song about a man who was born in Iowa, plans on staying there for life, and prominently features every country/bluegrass instrument possible. Never heard of Greg Brown before this experiment (turns out he's pretty cool...the shit you find on the information super highway, eh?), but he clearly has a high opinion of Iowa, so he can’t be all that bad. Or sane.

Relevance to Iowa:

The opening line “out there in the corn, in the middle of the U.S.A.” not only captures our greatest export, but also our geographical and political centrality. That, and the fact that we’re backward people who never want to leave, because we’re afraid of the outside world. Possibly the most relevant Iowa-related song ever recorded.

6) Iowa Fight Song

The rousing tune that always gets Kinnick stadium and/or Carver-Hawkeye Arena going. And the only words on this track are “Iowa, Iowa, Iowa.”

Relevance to Iowa:

Seems pretty damn relevant, but for the fact that it only covers Hawk fans. No love for Cyclone fans. And especially no love for Panther fans, but there’s only about of those anyway.

There you have it. Probably the most comprehensive list of Iowa-related music ever compiled, with a little something for everyone. And a bit surprising, really. I didn't think I'd find anything, but here I find myself opened to a multitude of new, pro-Iowa musicians.

California, New York...you're on notice. Iowa's a comin'. Musically, that is.

1 comment:

christopher uggen said...

cool, woz. color me impressed. but how could you forget the iowa beef experience? they toured the midwest relentlessly for decades. representative song title: "dope smokin' redneck from cedar rapids trapped in an alternate reality."