Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Daily Blair: America!

For today's edition of the Daily Blair I tried to give you a song that I think perfectly describes or defines every state. I even included some descriptions!

Lynyrd Skynyrd - "Sweet Home Alabama"

Nothing symbolizes southern pride more effectively than Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama." In one of the greatest non rap "beefs" ever, Skynyrd completely roasted Neil Young and his hippie ballad "Southern Man" on "Sweet Home Alabama." SHA is everything we love and hate about the south and Alabama in one song: it is southern hospitality yet southern racism, it is beautiful southern weather yet the vicious cloud of southern racism, and it is big hooks yet every weaker lyrics in the verse. SHA like the south has strengths in its weaknesses and weaknesses in its strengths.

Sun Kil Moon - "Trucker's Atlas"

Sun Kil Moon's cover of "Trucker Atlas" just gives you a very "Alaska feel." It is about traveling, fishing, finding "sex on the rocks," and making sure that all of this simpleness somehow makes you feel never ending happiness. Alaska is a state that advertises itself based off its coolness and simplicity. Nothing represents this coolness and this simplicity better than "Trucker's Atlas".
Wilco - "Hotel Arizona"

"Hotel Arizona" has the upbeat, relaxed, "hot," and insecure nature that reminds me so much of Arizona. It seems to be completely happy and free yet completely insecure and unsure of itself. It seems to be relaxed and open yet on the brink of doing something stupid. "Hotel Arizona" is a rich old man retiring in Phoenix: he enjoys the weather and the golf, but he really misses his family and being young.

Bruce Springsteen - "Mary, Queen of Arkansas"

When I think of Arkansas is a beautiful state that is in a geographical identity crisis. Arkansas is not sure if it is southern or Midwest, if it is Big 12 or SEC, if it is country or if it is folk, if it is Jim Crow or Jim Morrison, or if it is Bill Clinton or Bob Dole. Bruce Springsteen has always had a weird kind of identity crisis as well. He is a brilliant southern type songwriter who is a die hard liberal, he is never sure if he is singing for the working man or the man looking for work, and he is never sure if he should sing soft songs or hard rocking songs. Springsteen's "Mary Queen of Arkansas" is a beautiful song that perfectly represents his career and the identity of Arkansas.

Phantom Planet - "California"

California has always been sold to me as this utopia of liberal freedom. A place where the fountain of youth is the daily sound of an alarm clock, where a mans best friend is his surfboard and his drug, where the sun is found in every sunny relationship, and where religion is found in every worthwhile cause. I think the aggressive and catchy nature of Phantom Planet's "California" perfectly describes the way California is perceived and advertised. It is innocent, exciting, and most importantly fun.

John Denver - "Rocky Mountain High"

John Denver perfectly describes the freedom that is Colorado. This song is the painful climb of the mountain yet the warmest sip of hot chocolate, it is a song of heartbreak yet the story of finding a new love, it is a song about finding new "highs" in even your most desperate lows, and it is a song of opportunity yet reflection. Denver perfectly describes the paradox, serenity, and freedom that is climbing the mountain of love, opportunity, and reflection.

Jesus H. Christ & The Four Hornsmen of The Apocalypse - "Connecticut Is For F---ing"

Connecticut has always seemed to have a weird sense of humor about itself. It knows it is not New York yet it thinks it is better than all the Southern states, it knows it is not a tourist attraction yet considers itself better than most tourist attraction, and it knows its basketball coaches are scum yet still praises them. This song is full of the same aggressive and weird sense of humor it describes everything in Connecticut yet says the only thing to do is "f---," it is sarcastic yet truthful, and it is humble yet confident.

Saves The Day - "Hot Time In Delaware"

Delaware has always been the raw and more complicated version of some other the "more attractive" states that it borders. Saves The Day enthusiastic description of a night out in Delaware gives us that raw yet complicated feel that makes me think of Delaware.

The Mountain Goats - "Tallahassee"

The Mountain Goats have always given us a little bit of everything. They have given us hard rocking songs, ballads, acoustic songs, albums, EPs, and brilliant lyrics. Florida has always been able to give us a little bit of everything as well. Florida is a state made up of rednecks, Cubans, liberals, conservatives, the elderly, the young, tourist attractions, ghettos, the big three, the obese, two time zones, Christians burning other holy books, and Muslims. I don't remember Florida for its diversity or its attractions, I just remember it is Florida. Just like I don't remember the Mountain Goats for their accomplishments or their randomness, I just remember them as the Mountain Goats.

Band of Horses - "Georgia"

People who live in Georgia or are from Georgia seem to have endless pride about their state. Besides friends and family, state pride seems to be the most important thing to Georgia citizens and Georgia natives. This song is a perfect representation of that pride. It is a song that brags about being Georgia "son" almost as if the state itself served as a third parent, it is a song that describes every intersection in Georgia almost like it is a detour from a scheduled trip from heaven, and it is a song that screams that Georgia will always be home no matter how far away from Georgia its people go.

The Ventures - "Hawaii 5-0 Theme"

I have never been sure what to think of Hawaii besides thinking that I really want to go there. People say it is laid back yet exhilarating, it is rejuvenating yet crippling, and it is fun yet hard work. It seems like it is just a paradise of just about anything. The Ventures give Hawaii the perfect "paradise of anything" feel.

Built To Spill - "Twin Falls"

One of my friends who lives in Idaho described it as a place that "everything in you wants to leave, yet everything in you wants to stay." Built to Spill describes Idaho in the same way in this two minute acoustic "ballad." He perfectly describes the feeling of wanting to leave but not being able to escape from the sights, the people, and the places that have become so important to his daily routine.

Sufjan Stevens - "Chicago"

"Chicago" is the most catchy and the most charming song on Sufjan's Illinois album. It has the energy, charisma, character, excitement, and openness that seem to perfectly describe Chicago and Illinois from an outsiders perspective. "Chicago" is the perfect six minute example of the content adrenaline that seems to define our major cities and states.

John Mellencamp - "Small Town"

Indiana has always sort of prided itself on being a "Hoosiers" like underdog success story. Every person that gets a job, finds love, or even finds a hobby thinks when they find this success it is because of Indiana's small town nature and not because of their own hard work. Indiana seems to be a state filled with inferiority complexes about the other forty-nine states they think think of themselves as more important than Indiana. This inferiority complex may be illogical and unfounded but it makes success that much more sweet. The small town grass roots success of Indiana is perfectly defined in John Mellencamp's "Small Town."

John Linell - "Iowa"
W.G. Snuffy Walden - "On The Road To Kansas"

Ryan Parker - "We Love Our Cousins In Kentucky"

Kentucky is a state of passion. It is filled with people who are way too passionate about politics, horses, family, friends, and being from Kentucky. But I think the thing the people of Kentucky are the most passionate about is basketball. This song captures that peculiar passion perfectly and is hilarious and catchy at the same time. Go Big Blue.

The Animals - "The House of the Rising Sun"

According to an outsiders perspective the Louisiana is a state of gumbo, Parishes, Superdome's, alligators, swamps, and just about anything outside of knowledge. But parts of the Louisiana are filled with people who are very smart and have a healthy fear of the future like the rest of us. "The House of the Rising Sun" describes the dark side of the Mardi Gras state just about as good as anyone can.

Leon Russell - "From Maine To Mexico"
The Mountain Goats - "Going To Maryland"

Rogue Wave - "Lake Michigan"

Heaven is a switchboard that you want to fight is the opening line to Rogue Wave's brilliant "Lake Michigan." It is the most unique description of Heaven I have ever heard and I have heard Heaven described as just about everything. This uniqueness is something that I think Michigan prides it self on. It is a state defined by energy, kindness, and people who want you to "get off their stack." LM describes the unique nature of Michigan perfectly.

Forest City Lovers - "Minneapolis"
Mountain - "Mississippi Queen"

Van Morrison - "The Eternal Kansas City"

When I think of the word "timeless" I think of Van Morrison. His lyrics, instrumentation, and his songs are just as important today as they were in 1970 (at least to me.) He puts his timeless touch on KC and he ends up describing the city and the state(s) perfectly.

Hank Williams Jr. "Montana"

Desaparecidos - "Greater Omaha"

Everything Conor Oberst touches seems to turn into something that is at least interesting. He has made folk albums, electronic albums, rock albums, concept albums, and "sci-fi emo" albums. On this song he shows off his talent for grunge and finally comes up with a song that does an adequate job of describing the hard working and rural state that he grew up in. This song is one of the most underrated in the Oberst discography, just like Nebraska is one of the most underrated states in the United States.

The Weeknd- "Heaven or Las Vegas"

If you don't think about it that much the three 2011 Weeknd Mixtape's can all be viewed as a trip to Vegas: House of Balloons was the drug filled nights of sex and gambling, Thursday was the mistakes found the morning after the party, and Echoes of Silence is the silence found in having to go home and start over. So the Weeknd kind of defines a trip to Vegas and a trip to Nevada. Or maybe I'm just crazy.

Mat Pond PA - "New Hampshire"
Tom Waits - "Jersey Girl"
Johnny Hobo - "New Mexico Song"


Beirut - "East Harlem"

The New York song has become almost as cliche as the breakup song. Everyone has a song about New York: the freedom of New York, the openness of New York, the politics of New York, and the nightlife of New York. I am sick of all of these disingenuous songs about a state that half of these artists probably have not even visited. When I think of New York I think of a state that is probably a lot more complicated than what we make it out to be. Beirut defines the fun and complicated nature of New York without having to resort to disingenuous cliches.

James Taylor - "Carolina In My Mind"


Lyle Lovett - "North Dakota"

The National - "Bloodbuzz Ohio"

I have met so many people from Ohio in just like the past two years. The thing I have noticed about Ohio people is that they really like Ohio State and they really think family is the most important thing in their life. They give family members jobs, they consider family to be their "best friends," they are a living family reunion, and their number one focus is improving their family life. "Bloodbuzz Ohio" does a great job of describing the excitement that can be found in focusing on family and depending on them.


Willie Nelson - "Baja Oklahoma"

M. Ward - "Paul's Song"

M. Ward has always done a great job of making everything seem simple and making that simplicity seem beautifully. When I think of Oregon I think of a place that is creative, exotic, beautiful, and simple. "Paul's Song" is all of these.

Bruce Springsteen - "Streets of Philadelphia"

Charlie Hill - "Rhode Island, It's For Me"

They Might Be Giants - "South Carolina"

South Carolina is absolutely crazy. It is the only state we have that is known for its fireworks and strip clubs. What other state is defined by that unique of a combination? It seems to be the more corky and more conservative version of that thing we call North Carolina. This song understands the corky, conservative, firework, and strip club nature of South Carolina.

The Bee Gees - "South Dakota Morning"

Arrested Development - "Tennessee"

Rule #1: Never rule against Arrested Development.

Bob Willis and His Texas Playboys - "New San Antonio Rose"

AN old school country song for an old school country state.

Brian Wilson - "Salt Lake City"

Brian Wilson gives SLC the hard rocking and free feel that it has always deserved a chance at.

Cursive - "Vermont"

Cursive give Vermont the hard rocking and misunderstood feel they have always desired.


The Rolling Stones - "Sweet Virginia"

Virginia has always been one of the sweetest and more innocent states that we have. When you visit Virginia it is almost like you are visiting a million person cult that loves each other unconditionally. This song does a good job of describing that love.

Perry Como - "Seattle"
John Denver - "Country Roads"

Bon Iver - "Wisconsin"

Bon Iver explains Wisconsin in one song. I think Bon Iver could explain quantum physics in one song if he really wanted to.

Chris LeDoux - "Song of Wyoming"

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