Bill Kauffman has a post over at Front Porch Republic about finding great localist/regionalist songs, songs that celebrate place and home.
He leads off with this wonderful piece by Iris DeMent.
Which I'd never heard before.
He includes this classic by The Pretenders.
What a simple, angry song about paving over of our cities and rural lands by chain retailers, destroying the heritage of communities all across the country. Chrissie Hynde sings about Ohio, but I always associate this song with my former hometown, El Cajon, Calif., which has something in common with Batavia -- a downtown pretty well damaged by urban renewal, though El Cajon was left in much worse shape.
The other classic anti-urban renewal song comes from a Brit, Ray Davies, and The Kinks.
But not all great localist songs lament what used to be. Some great ones celebrate home, like CCR's "Looking Out My Backdoor."
The first week I moved to New York from California, one of my favorite music artists, and there's no pretense in calling him an artist, Dave Alvin released a new CD of songs by California songwriters writing about California. The first time I heard "California Bloodlines," I couldn't help but tear up.
The song was written by John Stewart and you can see him perform his version here.
I could do a whole post of Dave Alvin "California" songs, going back to his early days with The Blasters.
The last place in California I lived was Bakersfield, which is the subject the classic, "Streets of Bakersfield." You know that song was written by somebody who lived in Bakersfield for a long time, as it opens up with the perfect conundrum that describes Bako: "You don't know me, but you don't like me / You say you care less how I feel ..."
Bakersfield got slammed pretty good by this local rap due in "Armpit of the State."
The last song to share is another classic picking on Bakersfield's less positive attributes, "Kern River." That river claims five or six lives every year.
OK, one more Merle Haggard song, because it takes me back to a time when I lived in a big city and longed to move to a small town ... and I finally made it when I arrived in Batavia.
Do you have any favorite localist songs, songs of place?
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