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Wednesday, 28 August 2019

State of the Union - Maryland

George writes:
Yes, it’s a Panhandle State!

If you were to travel directly west from where we live the first state of the USA you would reach would be Maryland. 

Baltimore is in Maryland. I believe that when Lincoln was on his way to Washington DC to take up residence there he travelled through Baltimore at night to avoid possible assassination. And Baltimore is the setting of the tv show “Homicide: Life On The Streets”, which ran for 7 series. SEVEN? Man Alive, there’s over TWENTY of Midsomer Murders! Ten of that complete balderdash Stargate SG1. Just what is the world coming to? Not only is Homicide Life On The Streets very well scripted, it invariably features great songs in every episode. And it’s opening tune is by Miles Davis.  Watching it now (that and Due South when we stay at the farm) I am struck by how much less macho posing, fewer ridiculous action scenes (car chases, violence), there are compared to (no, not Midsomer Murders) Chicago PD or the Chicago Fire, for example.

In series one of Homicide: Life On The Streets, Ned Beatty was often sporting a tangerine and black scarf. I got terribly excited, thinking that someone involved in the show was a Dundee United fan and had somehow sneaked the scarf on the set. Alas no, it’s a Baltimore Orioles scarf.

The state itself is named after Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland. For some inane reason the obvious choices of Henriettaland, Henriettania, and Henriettucky were all rejected.

Did you know that 80s synthpop band Go West have a song called Baltimore to Paris? Did you know that Twiggy duetted with Tim “If I were a carpenter” Hardin? No? Here you are:

Time for Gram Parsons, and his always slightly vulnerable-sounding vocal, and of course a fine country song:

Maryland has a total area of just over 30 000 km2, making it just less than a thirtieth of the size of the west African country of Mauritania.

Next song is by the Counting Crows. I have just listened to, and I kid you not, a song that goes “good morning, Baltimore, each day’s like on open door, every night is a fantasy, every sound’s like a symphony”. ALso, the offering by the ex Mr Julia Roberts is rejected.

Looking at the shape of the state I wondered if it had a panhandle (as mentioned in the Florida article). And it does! At number 6 (out of 10) in the chart of Best American Panhandles, according to National Geographic. The panhandle bit of Maryland contains the site of the Battle of Antietam.

I looked up famous people from Maryland, and in the Only In Your State website’s top 20, at least ELEVEN were not born there. But there are some notable people who were born there, such as David Hasselhof. And some more infamous, such as mudrerer John Wilkes Booth and the convicted felon and morally obtuse ex-vice-president Spiro Agnew.  Maryland is the birthplace of record producer and SideShow Bob lookalike Adam Duritz.

No, that is NOT SideShow Bob.

And track 2 is from the second Jayhawks album Blue Earth, and it’s almost as good as the Gram Parsons track:

Baltimore is the birthplace of famous moothie-player Larry Adler.  And it is the city in which it is illegal to take a lion to the cinema. Tigers? Yes, Leopards? No problem. Panthers? Of course. Lions? FORGET IT!.

That’s Maryland. Another one next week. And you might be in for a musical surprise.

CC writes:
Bugger - I had the Jayhawks lined up or failing that Bobby Bare's version of The Streets of Baltimore.
Here's Plan C


  1. Randy Newman wrote the song "Baltimore" which was on his album "Little Criminals" (one of my favourites). A depressing tale featuring 2 of The Eagles on guitars. Various members of The Eagles also add backing vocals to a few of the tracks.

    There's a story in the Financial Times about the song which is worth reading:

    1. Thanks. I will be looking for the covers mentioned in the article

    2. The Tamlins version (in article) is very good

  2. The first thing that came into my head reading this this morning was Maryland Biscuits

  3. CC - Had never heard of the Jayhawks until last weekend when they featured on Rol's Sat Snapshots. Here they are again.

    George - For me the TV series The Wire which was set in Baltimore was a must watch. Had to have a break from it at one point though as covered all the big inner city issues so harrowing at times.

    The musical Hairspray is set in Baltimore but don't expect you have seen it. Divine played the mum of the lead character - superbly.

    1. Alyson, I've never seen The Wire (not shown here). I've also never seen Hairspray, you are correct. Also, I'd like to think I've introduced many many splendid tunes to you.

    2. Would thoroughly recommend The Wire if you ever get it.

      Yes, the tunes you (and CC) feature are generally ones I don't know so always a pleasant surprise. Liked seeing National Treasure Twiggy singing that duet with Tim Hardin.

    3. Alyson, just bought it, 2nd hand. Hopefully to be posted here before the UK self-destructs


  5. Another top quality post. Thank you.

    1. You're welcome Adam. And, here's some good news, there's plenty more to come. Unless Dear Leader CC prorogues my weekly slot......

    2. Now George you know that you are officially contracted to complete this series.
      Then we will evaluate your performance and discuss the way forward

  6. Hi All,

    Maryland native here. And while it's a nice place to live, I must confess that we punch below our weight, musically speaking. Of the 9650 songs in my iTunes library, exactly zero have "Maryland" in the title. And the only ones with Baltimore (or any other Maryland city) in the title are the Jayhawks song and two versions of "Streets of Baltimore." We actually have a state song: "Maryland, My Maryland". But it doesn't get sung much nowadays, seeing as how it refers to Abraham Lincoln as a despot. But at least we can boast that Billie Holiday was born in Baltimore. And the folk guitarist John Fahey started his career in Maryland, and named his record label after his home town of Takoma Park.
    We do rather better with films, as all of John Waters' films, and many of Barry Levinson's, are set in Baltimore. Then there's the immortal Heavy Metal Parking Lot, filmed outside our late, unlamented Capital Centre before a Judas Priest concert, circa 1986.


  7. Barry Levinson was executive producer of Homicide Life On The Streets. Over the course of this series I have never listened to any of the State Songs, I just assume they arejust all total nonsense-