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Five Songs About Illinois

List Of The Day

Considering that I'm handling Chicago as its own place, Illinois suffers a minor setback, invalidating a number of great tunes, even "The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace that didn't make my final Chicago cut. I must stand for consistency. There are so many parts of this country that are clearly underrepresented and I can see how they'd grow to become resentful when no one pays attention to them. Sounds strikingly similar to my own experience. And maybe yours.

It's like that TV commercial where the guy offers up his idea and everyone ignores him while seconds later another employee says the same thing with hand gestures and suddenly it's a brilliant idea. Maybe Illinois should work on its hand gestures.

"The Carbondale Strut"--Isaac Guillory: I know Carbondale is in Illinois. Knowing how this country likes to name things the same all over the place, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that there are many Carbondales. Well, Isaac Guillory's first solo album--he was in the Cryin' Shames--on Atlantic was an art department's dream, the same picture and format on both front and the back cover with just the song information (side A and B) changed. Someone wrote on my copy "Sounds Like James Taylor," which I can't completely disagree with. But I would add "but better."

"Illinois"--Dan Fogelberg: It's now the Late Dan Fogelberg. Dan had lite-FM written into his soul and his extreme mellowness made him easy to ignore or forget. But he prospered. He quietly prospered. While everyone else was breathing fire and screaming about making love, Dan was over on the corner getting the job done. Never trust those quiet ones. They're hiding something.

"Illinois Blues"--Skip James: Skip James is now the legendary bluesman "as featured in the film Ghostworld," which just goes to show how you never know when you're going to become more famous. Of course, James has been dead for years and therefore doesn't really care about all this. Or if he does, he won't be able to take advantage of his success because dead guys aren't allowed to tour or collect royalties. Up in heaven, you got to have God Money not the stuff they use down here. Not even Euros.

"Giant Of Illinois"--The Handsome Family: The Handsome Family sound like Johnny Cash on downers, which is really saying something. Western wear for the narcoleptic set. Only insomniacs left awake after one of their albums. Which isn't to say I don't enjoy them, because I do. But they are what is called in specific critical terms as "incredibly slow."

"Concerning The UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois"--Sufjan Stevens: I've heard this guy is a little nutty. I've seen him on TV playing with a football stadium's worth of band members. Which always makes me wonder, who pays these people? I know he sells some albums, but these days with everyone downloading it's become difficult for even successful indie bands of any kind to make money without selling coffee mugs and T-shirts and key rings. I admit the people who play with him look like they've joined a cult, so maybe they pay him. Now that's an idea I can get behind! Anyone interested in following me?

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