Sunday, January 08, 2006

Tri-state locale music- Leadbelly & Yo La Tengo

One thing you have to admire about MP3 players is the random function that lets you create your own defacto radio station. What's even more curious is that when certain songs appear at certain times.

On a train going into the heart of the New Jersey suburbs, Yo La Tengo's "Detouring America With Horns" came on. Talk of 'enemies' and 'memories' in the lyrics fade into the dreamy singing and beautifully droning music- the perfect soundtrack as you blur past stretches of stand-alone homes and barren, winter trees. It's only appropriate that the music comes from NJ itself.

On a train that was about to come in NYC, I hear Leadbelly's "New York City" on my player. Nice timing again, eh? Though the legendary folkie used "Salt Lake City" and "Kansas City" as variations, this particular city ode has him adding in nice little touches like taking the bus up 5th avenue and catching a subway when the weather gets bad. He even goes to Georgia and Louisiana to sing Gotham's praises (and to say how tough it is there). His enthusiasm comes through with the "woooo" (almost like a train whistle) he adds on to many of the lines in the song. Among the Gotham anthems, this one shouldn't be forgotten. Indeed LB settled in NYC, after growing up in Louisiana and Texas (partly spending time in their correctional facilities). The song was part of his first major label session, recorded in... well, you know where.

Now I just need to hear a good song about Connecticut to pop up on my player the next time I go out there and I've got the tri-state hat trick.

On an immodest note, I finished my yearly round-up of best music journalism of 2005 for I'll leave my comments to the intro there but be warned that I've already started on my '06 list...


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