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Wednesday, 21 August 2019

State of the Union - Michegan

George writes:
At first all I could think about for this state was: 1. Lake Michigan. 2. Flint (the city), and 3. Album of the same name by Sufjan Stevens.  .

There was a film about Flint a few years, about the affect the closure of  car-factories had on the city and its people. From 80 000 employees in 1970, General Motors had maybe 7, 200 in 2015. Looking at the population changes of the city it has suffered a rather catastrophic fall in population over 50 years, from just over 190 000 in 1970 to about 96 000 today. And Flint has been in the news in the past few years because its water source is so unsafe “Flint residents were instructed to use only bottled or filtered water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and bathing” (from wikipedia) due to a poor water treatment resulting in lead leaching into the supply from pipes- And Flint is one of the most dangerous cities (in the top ten of cities > 75 000)............................... I no longer work for the FTA (Flint Tourist Authority).....

On to cheerier matters. Convicted felon and “"the greatest scab and cancer on the face of Christianity in 2,000 years of church historyJim Bakker was born in Muskegon, Michigan.  Well, that was how Jerry Falwell described Mr Bakker, and Jerry would know!

(Fifty per cent of the people in that picture are felons)

After that heart-lifting introduction, time for some music. Kid Rock (not his real name, and he is a middle-aged name now not a youth) is a musician I am not familiar with,and after listening to 50 seconds of his “Detroit, Michigan” it will remain that way. Instead, here’s a splendid cover of “Detroit City”. Just listen to that piano at the start, that familiar voice skewing the vowels….

How can Jerry Lee Lewis’s vocal not cheer you up?

I had to research Michigan to realise Detroit is in the state. And to cut a long story short, there ARE some musicians who do not come from Detroit.
I also listened to 100 seconds of Detroit City by Kiss.  Other relevant songs rejected by the GTP are by Blondie, Ian Hunter, Primal Scream, The J. Geils Band, Texas, Alice Cooper, The White Stripes, Wayne Kramer,  and Smokey Robinson & The Miracles. (GTP are the George Taste Police.) 

(above: Stevland Hardaway Judkins, born in Saginaw, Michigan,)

The GTP did listen to the Joe Strummer song, and it was quite liked. And 25 seconds of the utter shite offered by Suzi Quatro. And the entirety of the Big Bill Broonzy offering, which sadly had to be rejected because the title refers to a train. And Lefty Frizzell’s song is also excluded.

Second song, and it is this utterly brilliant offering from the obvious album (Romulus is a 
large suburb of Detroit.):

Mr. Stevens was born in Detroit.

No place for the song that I thought was covered by Lulu, but wasn’t. (she covered Watch That Man).

That’s Michigan, where any 12-year old (or older) can have a gun license as long as they are not a convicted felon.
That’s Michigan, where in Harper Woods it is illegal to paint a sparrow and sell it as a parakeet.
That’s Michigan, birthplace of Madonna (not the mother of Jesus, the other one).

Another state next week.

CC writes: Not quite sure why Lefty was excluded. I'm including him

Lefty Frizzell - Saginaw, Michegan


  1. It's ages since I listened to Jerry Lee's "Detroit City". Thanks for that.

    I applaud your bravery at listening to 100 seconds of Kiss.

    1. Don't butter him up - he'll be looking for "danger money" next!

  2. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is stunning in its beauty. Just about everything south of there is pretty awful. I have spent a fair bit of time in the quaint little town of Saugatuck as well. It's an artist colony and well worth a visit for a long weekend when the weather is warm. That Sufjan Stevens album is a keeper. I wish he would have tried a little harder to complete his goal of an LP for every state.

    1. re. Sufjan Stevens. Brian, that's the young people of today, no commitment, no staying power. I am now going to research Saugatuck......

    2. Saugatuck has a population of slightly less than 1000, and is 4th in the Top Ten coolest towns of America!

  3. I think my series would always feature the songs and artists you make fun of in your series! If I'd made it to Michigan I would have had Madonna in there probably. And last week it would have been Elvis in his Blue Hawaii guise. Oh well...

    I love the song America by Simon & Garfunkel and they mentioned Saginaw.

    “Kathy”, I said,
    As we boarded a Greyhound in Pittsburgh,
    Michigan seems like a dream to me now.
    It took me four days
    To hitch-hike from Saginaw.
    “I’ve come to look for America.”

    Also the bit of Michigan Brian refers to is shaped like a fist with the thumb pointing now - The bridge that joins it both peninsulas is the Mackinac Bridge.

    Liked that Kid Rock song from a few years back that sampled both Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama". Great video (are they still called that?!) for it set on the lakes.

    1. ...of course that should be the "thumb pointing down". That's the Upper Peninsula. The Lower Peninsula is shaped like a mitten so people always point to a particular spot on their hand when describing where they come from. Sorry, too much information there but like with the Italy boot, I can't see Michigan as anything other than a hand (with thumb and pinkie) or mitten now. Took a long time for me to realise that the panhandle was indeed that, the shape of a pan handle.

      I will go now...

  4. That Sufjan Stevens track is indeed lovely. Nothing by the Detroit Cobras though who for all I know may come from nowhere near Detroit or the Detroit Spinners ditto or Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels ditto too. Weren't there some Detroit Emeralds too at one time....oh and Bowie's Panic in Detroit. Don't worry I'm just scratching my memory, just wait until I scratch the internet!

  5. Don't worry, I won't be scratching the internet and besides it sounds like a disgusting thing to do