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Five Songs For Iowa

List Of The Day

Iowa has never had much of a music scene. Des Moines has never ranked up there with Seattle, NY, LA, SF. I'm sure they have music. Hopefully readers from the fine state can enlighten me with their comments. I learn from your input. I know Iowa has a great writers' program that attracts people far more talented than myself. Finding songs about this state yielded one great new find but otherwise it was a terrifying search.

This is what writers call the dark night of the soul, when all hope dissipates and all that remains is that nagging feeling that you should've listened to your parents and gotten a business degree and made a lot of money. But no, you had dreams. You had a belief that a better world was waiting for you, that your words would save the youth and spare the elderly. You would deliver the world from evil. You would subsist on something more than government cheese and hot dogs. You were wrong.

"Iowa"--John Linnell: I've enjoyed a few They Might Be Giants tunes over the years. But boy did my respect for John Linnell grow exponentially when I discovered that he released an album called State Songs. Unfortunately, he didn't write one for each state. But you can be sure when the pickings get slim, we'll be hearing an awful lot more about the greatness that is John Linnell.

"The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines"--Joni Mitchell: In one of her many attempts to shoot her successful pop career in the proverbial foot, Joni Mitchell recorded an album called Mingus that is to jazz what cat food is to the food chain. In other words, it's in there somewhere. I'm just impressed that they have a need for dry cleaning in Des Moines. I guess I just figured they all used Woolite.

"Iowa"--Dar Williams: One of the great things about folksingers is that you can count on them to sing about anything. While pop songwriters often focus on love and drug addiction, folksingers will plumb the depths of county fairs, Uncle Ian's Pig Farm, the need for better-timed stop-lights, you name it. So it was no surprise to see that Dar Williams performs a song called "Iowa" even though she has never lived there. That's what we call "imagination."

"The Iowa Indian Song"--Bing Crosby: Parents don't name their kids "Bing" anymore. Did they ever? These days "Dylan" isn't uncommon. And I assume "Justin" and "Mariah" and "Allegra" are here to stay. But maybe parents weren't as susceptible to cultural influences back in the Bing Crosby days. It was before cable television and corporate synergy and the great branding we now take for granted.

"On Iowa"--USC Trojan Marching Band: I don't have all the USC Trojan Marching Band albums. In fact, I don't own any. Isn't that terrible? And when I asked a few friends if they had any, they hung up. But I will warn you now, this type of music is on a comeback and will be incredibly popular with kids of all ages--though mostly very old ones.

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