Friday, June 11, 2004
States and songs
Hearing about Ray Charles's death got "Georgia on My Mind" stuck in my head, which led me to wonder: why do only Southern states seem to have songs written about them? Not just official state songs, but songs you actually hear on the radio. "Georgia on My Mind," "Sweet Home Alabama," "My Old Kentucky Home," the ones I forget the titles of with the lines "going to Carolina in my mind" and "Almost heaven, West Virginia"seriously, West Virginia has a positive song written about it and no state north of the Mason-Dixon line does? (Well, not that I can think of, anyway.)
Maybe it's because country and blues singers, who seem to be the main writers of that kind of song, are mostly from the South (well, from the South and from Canada); or that Southern states tend to have multisyllabic names ending in "a," which better lend themselves to sustained notes and melisma. It's hard to croon "Massachusettttttttsssss..." or sustain a sweet soprano "Maaaaaiiiiine..."
(Non-Southern cities have songs written about them; New York, obviously, Chicago, San Francisco. [Heck, San Jose.] Philadelphia seems only to have negative songs written about it; Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia" isn't something you'd use as the backup music for a tourism commercial. And the musical "1776" contributed the immortal line "Foul, fetid, fuming, foggy, filthy Philadelphia.")
[ at 12:46 PM • by Abby • permalink • ]