I only recently realized that the year is half over. I was terribly busy at work and knew that June was ending – its a big deal for my Corporate Masters when the first half ends – but it wasn’t until I woke up on July 1st that I thought, wow, we’re now starting the back half of the year. I can’t believe that the July 4th, Independence Day Holiday is upon us. It tends to sneak up on me. I’d like to wish all my American readers a happy and safe 4th of July. We posted a playlist for the 4th a few years ago, BourbonAndVinyl iPod Playlist: 4th of July, American Independence Day. Remember folks, watch those firecrackers, we want all of you out there to keep all of your fingers. And also – sparklers are really hot so be careful with those. I burned my hand really badly one year… #clumsy.
For years on the 4th of July, we used to take our daughter out to my sister-in-law’s house in the country for that time honored tradition of “blowing shit up.” Now that she’s grown and moved away that tradition sort of withered. At night, out on that little farmstead, we’d climb up on the roof of the house which was on a hill and you could see every small town fireworks display in the three county area. It really was awesome to behold. I don’t even know if in this time of pandemic that towns and cities will be doing fireworks displays? I know east of where I live somebody has been enjoying lighting firecrackers for a few weeks now. Usually at 2 a.m., thanks kids.
For me, the calendar rolling to July tends to signal the start of summer. I know that most people associate the start of summer with Memorial Day and the end of summer with Labor Day, but for me the start of summer was always July. By July school was over, when I was older I was into whatever summer job I had. I was a bus boy for a while, filthy work, really. I also did light construction at my best friend Doug’s father’s company building tennis courts. That was even filthier work. Dirty jobs seemed to be my specialty back then. As the Who sang, “I’m getting put down, I’m getting pushed around…” In the tennis court days I prayed every summer day for rain. Joe Zona was the weather guy on the AM station and I used to listen to him every morning like he was the Oracle of Delphi hoping he’d say it would rain so I could have a day off.
When I think back (mostly fondly) of summers I think of my father’s tradition of taking us on a family vacation. I was a…let’s call it… “difficult” child. My father, brother and I weren’t terribly close at the time. We weren’t a fly-on-a-plane somewhere family. We’d load up the car and drive wherever we were going. Locking me, my brother and my father in the same car had to be pretty tense for mom. A lot of testosterone in a small space. It’s a wonder we all stayed alive. We drove as far as Cape Cod to visit my aunt one year. Thankfully my grandparents were in a second car… we communicated with toy walkie-talkies I’d gotten for Christmas the previous year. My brother and I would switch cars every time we stopped, like a prisoner exchange. We were like Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold’s family in ‘Vacation.’ I will say, after that trip we only drove that far one other time, to Florida. I think everybody realized the long drive was a difficult plan to execute.
The place we went probably more than any other was in southern Missouri. It was a western/cowboy themed amusement park named Silver Dollar City near Branson. I think it’s still open. This was before Branson became, well, Branson. It was nothing tremendous but we really loved going there. The problem was the three or four hours in the car getting there. My father, the poor bastard, would load us up in the car and before we’d hit Grandview he’d already run through his greatest hits: “Stop jiggling my seat,” “Don’t make me come back there,” or my favorite, “If I have to stop this goddamn car…” That was the most menacing of threats. His face would be red and I couldn’t even imagine how batshit crazy he’d have gotten if he ever did have to stop the car. I imagined being flogged with a belt beside the highway until the cops showed up to drag our rabid-dog-angry father away from us to prevent our death. I was so obnoxious the cops might’ve helped dad beat me. We didn’t have iPods or iPads or TV’s built into the back of the driver’s seat. It was 4 hours of billboard bingo… I spot an A… These kids today don’t realize the struggle was real. I feel sorry for my dad having to work 50 weeks a year only to face his hostile family for 2 weeks while we vacationed “together?”
Here I am all these years later and “summer vacation” means taking a few extra days off around the 4th of July so I can sleep late and go for a walk. These days it’s more likely a “staycation” instead of actually traveling somewhere. This year there really is nowhere we can go. I have a brother in Houston… nope, COVID is spiking there… I hope he’s wearing a mask. My wife will go out and see our daughter at some point but I’ll probably hang here at the house… Usually when she leaves me alone like that for a weekend she finds me slathered in peanut butter and bourbon, weeping over an old video of Springsteen and the E-Street Band, muttering, “I can’t believe the Big Man is gone…” I need adult supervision.
I know some people are planning to travel anyway, despite the pandemic. I see those crazies at the Lake of the Ozarks. I was never really a “lake” person. My pal Doug’s dad had a boat and that was fun, but my parents never took us to the lake. For those of you who are stuck at home – or hell for those of you on a long car drive, threatening members of your family for invasions of your space (“he’s on my side of the car”) – I thought I’d put together a playlist that takes us on a virtual tour of the United States. I know it’s trite, and it’s been done before, but never by us down here at the B&V labs. I tried to pick one song for every state. Usually I looked for songs that had the state in the title but the rules were pretty loose, to be honest with you. I actually got the idea listening to Neil Young who seems to have more songs named after states than seems normal. And yes, there are many songs about states, but these were my favs… and as usual I’m all over the place stylistically. You can find this playlist on Spotify, just search on “BourbonAndVinyl.net” and you’ll find it. Wherever you are out there, traveling or not, I hope you all have a great and safe summer. We’ll be here at B&V listening to rock and roll, locked in our attic like a modern day Boo Radley. Leaving our little gifts in the form of these humble posts. Enjoy!
- Alabama: Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Sweet Home Alabama” – Well, you knew I’d go here first. I considered Neil Young’s “Alabama” but I knew I’d be using him later.
- Alaska: Maggie Rogers, “Alaska” – I actually stumbled across this tune by accident. I know nothing about her but I dig this track.
- Arizona: Scorpions, “Arizona” – From their great album, Blackout.
- Arkansas: Bruce Springsteen, “Mary Queen of Arkansas” – I actually had the pleasure of seeing Bruce play this deep track live in Little Rock (aka La Petite Roche).
- California: 2Pac featuring Dr Dre, “California Love” – We like to turn this track up as loud as it will go. Simply brilliant.
- Colorado: Stephen Stills with Manassas, “Colorado” – From the country rock side of the double album… I love Manassas.
- Connecticut: Aerosmith, “I Live In Connecticut” – I totally cheated here… this is just a song fragment. I like Aerosmith tho…and there aren’t a tremendous number of songs about Connecticut, the Wonder bread of states.
- Delaware: George Thorogood, “Delaware Slide” – A really long song for a small state. This is George’s first appearance on a B&V playlist, welcome George.
- Florida: Eric Clapton, “Mainline Florida” – I stayed in the guitar hero area here. I love this track.
- Georgia: Willie Nelson & Ray Charles, “Georgia On My Mind” – I had to go with this live duet as most of Ray Charles’ music isn’t on Spotify. I don’t know who is running things at his estate but they might wanna look into that.
- Hawaii: Neil Young, “Hawaii” – From the brilliant vault release Hitchhiker, LP Review: Neil Young’s Album From His Vault, ‘Hitchhiker’.
- Idaho: B-52s, “Private Idaho” – Fun song from a fun band.
- Illinois: Tom Waits, “Johnsburg, Illinois” – I was late to the Waits’ party but I’m all in now.
- Indiana: Melissa Etheridge, “Indiana” – Kansas lady singing about Indiana…I loved her debut LP.
- Iowa: Mal Blum, “Iowa” – I only picked this track because Manfred Mann’s “Stranded In Iowa” is not on Spotify. Sigh.
- Kansas: Big Country, “We’re Not In Kansas Anymore” – I considered cheating and putting a track by the band Kansas here, but I dug this song.
- Kentucky: Elvis Presley, “Blue Moon of Kentucky” – Many have sung this song, but none like the King.
- Louisiana: Randy Newman, “Louisiana 1927” – Newman was from southern California but he spent summers at his New Orleans’ grandmother’s house.
- Maine: Rudy Vallee, “Maine Stein Song” – Consider this track “intermission.” It sounds like a school fight song. There just aren’t many tracks about Maine.
- Maryland: Good Charlotte, “There She Goes” – I don’t know if these guys are from Maryland but this song is about it.
- Massachusetts: Modern Lovers, “Roadrunner” – “I’m in love with Massachusetts” was not how I was feeling after the Cap Cod trip of 1976…
- Michigan: Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Especially In Michigan” – Kiedis’ mother lives in Michigan… I’m so glad Frusciante is back!
- Minnesota: Tom Waits, “Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis” – Minny is a jewel of a city and this is a jewel of a track.
- Mississippi: Bob Dylan, “Mississippi” – This track was also covered by Sheryl Crow but Dylan’s version trumps that.
- Missouri: The Beatles, “Kansas City” – I went with this because, well, I’m from KC and I feel that the rest of the state outside of Jackson County is a no man’s land.
- Montana: James Taylor, “Montana” – That voice…
- Nebraska: Bruce Springsteen, “Nebraska” – The title track from Springsteen’s bleakest LP, B&V’s 10 Favorite Grim And Sad Albums.
- Nevada: Billy Joel, “Stop In Nevada” – From his Piano Man album, which not surprisingly I love.
- New Hampshire: Sonic Youth, “New Hampshire” – It’s about time we get some Sonic Youth on a B&V playlist!
- New Jersey: Tom Waits, “Jersey Girl” – I didn’t realize I had so much Waits on here… Obviously I could have gone with Springsteen’s version but I dig this one.
- New Mexico: Johnny Cash, “New Mexico” – I considered “Albuquerque” by Neil Young but you can’t beat the Man In Black.
- New York: Frank Sinatra, “Theme From New York, New York” – So many NY songs to choose from, B&V Playlist: Songs For New York City, but you have to go with the Chairman of the Board on this one.
- North Carolina: James Taylor, “Carolina On My Mind” – I did research here and this song is about North Carolina…
- North Dakota: Lyle Lovett, “North Dakota” – A song about the “girls from North Dakota” and perhaps the saddest track on this list.
- Ohio: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, “Ohio” – Written by Neil…”Tin soldiers and Nixon’s coming, we’re finally on our own…” Powerful even today!
- Oklahoma: Merle Haggard, “Okie From Muskogee” – I got to see Merle open for Bob Dylan. He had a voice like smooth whiskey. I’ve also been to Muskogee… a good place to be “from.” Merle was probably on the wrong side of history with this song, but I love the man’s music.
- Oregon: Loretta Lynn, “Portland, Oregon” – From an album produced by Jack White. Great duet! Loretta and Jack, singing together? Yes, please.
- Pennsylvania: Heart, “Pennsylvania” – A track I was unfamiliar with until I started researching this list a few months ago. Kind of a haunting track.
- Rhode Island: Ike & Tina Turner, “Rhode Island Red” – Ike is a bad man but I dug this song.
- South Carolina: The Raconteurs, “Carolina Drama” – From Jack White’s original side project. Great little band. This is my favorite song by the Raconteurs. And yes, he name drops South Carolina in the song so I’m good here.
- South Dakota: Liz Phair, “South Dakota” – The 90s “It Girl” rocker.
- Tennessee: Chris Stapleton, “Tennessee Whiskey” – On a blog with “bourbon” in its title you knew I’d be drawn to this track. My friend Drummer Blake turned me onto this one… This might be my favorite track on this list, right now anyway.
- Texas: Stevie Ray Vaughn & Double Trouble, “Texas Flood” – The title track from the great bluesman/guitarist’s debut album.
- Utah: The Beach Boys, “Salt Lake City” – It shows you my desperation on finding a track about Utah that I went to the Beach Boys (who I despise) for a track.
- Vermont: Willie Nelson, “Moonlight In Vermont” – From the wonderful Stardust album. Willie was the first country singer I actually liked.
- Virginia: Foo Fighters, “Virginia Moon” – Virginia is for lovers and fighters of Foo. Kind of mellow for them.
- Washington: Nirvana, “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge Seattle” – I don’t know where Cobain got his inspiration for this song but the movie ‘Frances’ starring Jessica Lange might just be it… It was a harrowing, unblinking look at how Frances was just betrayed by everyone around her. I’ve always connected with this abrasive track.
- West Virginia: John Denver, “Take Me Home, Country Roads” – The karaoke, sing along favorite. I had to reach deep on this state.
- Wisconsin: Ben Iver, “Minnesota, WI” – Two states in one song…
- Wyoming: Neil Young, “The Emperor of Wyoming” – From Neil’s debut album. 100% country-rock instrumental and a nice way to take us out of the 50 states.
Enjoy this little virtual tour of the fifty united states of the U.S.
Editors Note: No children were harmed or abused in the writing of this post, least of all me, your intrepid blogger. Corporal punishment was used sparingly in my house in the 70s and only when I deserved it. The threat of corporal punishment was used quite a bit.