Sunday, November 29, 2009

These United States of America (Part Six)

You wait 10 days for the next part of the These United States series, and then two come along at once. Here it is, the final installment, as we clear the decks on Ragged Glories before the Musical Advent Calendar takes over for the next four weeks. Anyhow, here's the final swing through the Western states.

Judy Roderick & The Forbears - Floods of South Dakota (When I'm Gone, 1982)

If there's one artist I only came across through doing this compilation and immediately want to know more about, Judy Roderick would be the one. A contemporary of Dylan, Roderick never achieved the commercial success her records seem to deserve. Her 1982 album When I'm Gone was re-released in 2008, and this is the one I'm going to go after. This track, recorded in the late 1970s, is among those upon it. Roderick died in 1992.

Elvis Presley - Blue Hawaii (Blue Hawaii, 1961)

The title track to Elvis' Hawaiian movie is one of the first two songs you think of with regard to the Aloha State, and it clearly deserve the nod over Hawaii Five-O. That is all.

(Iowa) - Joni Mitchell - The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines (Mingus, 1979)

There is a Slipknot song called Iowa, but everyone vetoed that. Several said they would refuse to own a compilation that had Slipknot on it. And so we bent the rules, and turned to Joni. It is taken from the 1979 album that resulted from her working closely with jazz legend Charles Mingus right before his depth, and you won't need me to tell you those influences are completely apparent.

Emmylou Harris - Montana Girl (At The Ryman, 1992)

Emmylou has two songs about Montana, this here 'Montana Girl' and also 'Wild Montana Skies'. We went we this one mainly because I had a copy of it. It's taken from the live album At The Ryman, which was made up of a diverse series of covers taking in everything from hillbilly music to Bruce Springsteen. It's an interesting listen, to say the least.

Franki Valli & The Four Seasons - Idaho (The Genuine Imitation Life Gazette, 1969)

I love this song. It's gorgeously corny, and hopelessly catchy. And yet brilliant.

Kenny Rogers - My Washington Woman (Breakout, 1989)

Okay, okay, I admit it. Coming only two tracks after Emmylou Harris, I can't deny that the West Coast CD is full of country too, not just the Southlands.

Deer Tick - Nevada (War Elephant, 2007)

Late stand-ins for the Willard Grant Conspiracy, who will appear elsewhere with their gorgeous 'Christmas in Nevada'. I'll be honest, I've pretty much fallen in love with Deer Tick in the last six months, having stumbled across a piece on frontman John Joseph McCauley, detailing his musical education as being largely limited to Hank Williams and Nirvana. You know that combination has to work.

Beach Boys - California Girls (Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!), 1965)

California had as many candidate songs as anywhere. It was perhaps the hardest decision of all, but several contributors to this compilation lobbied hard on behalf of the native Beach Boys, and who can argue?

Dr Dog - Alaska (We All Belong, 2007)

Dr Dog are one of those bands you end up discovering because their album has a cool looking cover so you decide to buy it on sight. We All Belong never disappointed, with the band's brand of Beatles-esque retro-pop a delightful addition to the collection. I'm not sure why this song ended up being called Alaska, the lyrics make passing reference ('Well, it's night time in Alaska/I hear it's dark until the spring') but it's hardly the focus. Ah well, helps us out...

Bon Iver - Wisconsin (For Emma, Forever Ago, 2008)

I'd owned this album for about a year, and was well into the process of desperately hunting a Wisconsin song for the compilation, before I figured out the bonus track was named after the Badger State.


  1. Thanks for including Judy Roderick's solo version of Floods of South Dakota. The album, When Im Gone, is available at I produced the release, and included this one solo gem because most folks have never heard her later day solo work. Her second LP from the folk era, Woman Blue is out on CD from Vanguard Records, most easily located oat . "Floods" was also covered by Tim & Mollie Obrien

  2. "Alaska" (by Dr. Dog) is about Toby's brother leaving for Alaska..