What is known in most circles as "The John Cougar State," Indiana was also the home of James Dean, a man too good looking to be allowed to live. By that estimation, I will live to be a hundred and four. It'll be just me and some old, chain-smoking French woman loading up on red wine and arguing Sartre. Provided I still have the eyesight. I intend to write numerous "Letters to the Editor" to my local paper and find something to complain about every single day. (Much like this blog!) It keeps you young. Or at least stops other people from ignoring you.
Indiana Wants Me"--R. Dean Taylor: R. Dean Taylor never became the household name this song suggested he become. Of course he sounds like a cross between a game show host, a rich Texas oilman and a breakfast sausage. Another one of his tunes about having a ghost in his house was later covered by the Fall. Though this song is about being caught in a bad position, it sounds so damn happy. Does he know he'll be pardoned in the end?
"Jim Dean Of Indiana"--Phil Ochs: Ah, Phil. Everyone jumped on Bob Dylan for leaving protest music behind. Eric Andersen even had that tune "The Hustler." But eventually everyone realized writing songs from the newspaper was boring and writing really long, weird songs made you seem like you knew something no else did. But then Phil realized he didn't want to be Van Dyke Parks anymore than Van Dyke probably wanted to. So he wrote songs like "Gas Station Women," "Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Me" and this tribute to James Dean, who as I said up top, was too good looking to be allowed to live. (And then let Van Dyke Parks produce his album!)
Goin' Back To Indiana"--The Jackson Five: These folks probably should've gone back to Indiana. Look what's happened to them since. Sure, they've made millions and bought islands and Michael seems to be in need of professional help. But it's still got to be better than being Tito! And he was in a sense successful as well. But it's the level of success! Everything is relative. In their case, EVERYTHING is relatives!(Ugh, puns.) If I was as successful as Tito Jackson, that would make me about two hundred thousand times more successful than I am now. But I'm still at least ten times more successful than my friends who are currently in jail!
"Gary, Indiana"--Robert Preston from The Music Man: I used to have a rule against writing about musicals. But I see the future and it includes a state called Oklahoma and I want to be ready. So, sure, let's open the door to the great musical tradition of Broadway Musicals! Who can forget Robert Preston's heart-warming "Gary, Indiana" from that much beloved Meredith Willson composed Music Man production, starring among others Robert Preston, Shirley Jones (Mama Partridge!) and Buddy Hackett (best known for his wonderful Tuscan Ice Cream commercials). As we used to say in New Jersey when I was growing up and we wondered what became of the missing children on the milk carton boxes, maybe Buddy Hackett ate him!
Indiana Jones Theme"--John Williams: Already several people have called to complain that Indiana Jones has absolutely nothing to do with the state of Indiana. Someone else wrote and told me John Williams has nothing to do with music. To which I'd like to point out, often what I write has nothing to do with anything, so why the sudden police state? It's a little late to start applying "criteria" and "standards" now, doncha think? The cows are out of the barn or whatever the saying is. You can't keep them down on the farm forever! Besides, things are bound to improve. Looking ahead I'm sure Iowa will rock! And Nebraska's going to be good for a Bruce Springsteen reference. And by the time I wrap everything up, American Samoa and Puerto Rico will probably be states. And maybe Wisconsin will have dropped out!
You gotta have a dream.
- James Dean
- Van Dyke Parks