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Wednesday 6 February 2019

State of the Union - Oregon

George writes:
The official state nut of Oregon is the hazelnut. (Oregon is the only state with an official state nut).
 And Florence, Oregon is known as Oregon’s rhododendron capital. Is that true? Can anyone verify that?
 “Where are you from?”
“ the Italian one or the rhododendron capitol of Oregon?”

But I think my favourite piece of information is that the official state seashell is the Oregon hairy triton. Was there a vote on this? What were the other candidates? And by the way, a search for Hairy Triton can be safely done at work.

Time for a song. There is a city in Oregon called Eugene,but you’re not getting the Dolly Parton track, but for the second week in a row I am featuring another simply beautiful song by Sufjan Stevens, this time from the Carrie & Lowell album. This album is not a bundle of laughs, given the topic, not one for playing if you’re a bit low, a bit melancholy. Eugene is a simple acoustic number, part of it recalling time he spent there as a child, and part relating to a illness and death. I think some of Sufjan Stevens’ work is fantastic, but it will not be featuring in this series every week. Maybe not again.

And from Eugene to Portland, and possibly a track many are already familiar with. Not the one by Belle and Sebastian, not the one by The Replacements, not the one by The Purple Riders of The New Sage, not even Portland Town by Joan Baez……….but the track by Loretta Lynn and Jack White.

And that was 305th best song of the 2000s. According to Pitchfork magazine. (“Destroyer” by The Sublimination Hour was ranked 304, a song with musical references to Hunky Dory so blatantly obvious even I can hear them.)

The fourth-largest city in Oregon is Gresham. Someone wrote a song about it. Twee beyond belief.

Another state next week.

CC writes - stumped this week. I had Loretta and Jack in mind.
Had to cheat a little


  1. I'm a not-quite native Oregonian (Dad was serving in the Air Force when I was born, so I wasn't born in the state). I believe Florence claims to be the Rhododendren capital as they host the Rhodedendron (Rhodey) Festival each year. They do have a lot of them, but those plants thrive throughout western Oregon. Florence is also known for the nearby sand dunes with accompanying dune buggies and when I was much younger, camel rides. Eugene is known for the University of Oregon and it's football team (American, not soccer) and liberal politics. I'm close enough to Portland that I tend to consider Gresham a suburb to Portland rather than a city itself.

    1. Some good info that George missed there!
      Wasn't the University of Oregon the home of Nike's controvesial atheletics training camp?

    2. missed? missed? Do you think I have nothing better to do with my time than trawling the internet for minutiae of the states of the USA?

  2. I am very much enjoying this feature, George. (And CC.)

    Al Stewart - Katherine of Oregon (which I might feature myself sometime soon as it's a pretty good Mid-Life Crisis song)

    Titus Andronicus - Upon Viewing Oregon's Landscape With the Flood of Detritus (Kinda like an American Pogues trying to sing Born To Run)

    Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin - Oregon Girl (it might sound like I'm making these up now, but this was a band I discovered through the blogosphere back when blogging was a little cooler than it is now)

    Blitzen Trapper - Oregon Geography

    Shawn Mullins - Twin Rocks, Oregon

    I also seem to have two tracks by a band called Oregon Bike Trails... though they're less interesting than any of the tracks above. But that might just be me.

    I won't bore you with the cities...

  3. Like much of the Oregon coast, Florence is a gem. When time permits, we go to Bandon. When time is not on our side, we prefer Depoe Bay. The sweet spot, though, is Florence. Jack and Loretta would have been my pick too.

  4. Writing from beautiful,sometimes frustrating Multanomah County, someone might appreciate the fact that two Oregon TOWNS have produced almost genius band names, the Dalles Cowboys, and the much missed Coos Bay City Rollers., Honorary Mention...PBR me ASAP, Salem OR.