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Wednesday 25 September 2019

State of the Union - Idaho

George writes:

This week, a song will feature that you all know. This one:

This state is famous for potatoes. Thirty percent of all potatoes grown in the USA are grown in Idaho I thought that Iowa was famous for that reason. I was wrong. Again. It is also the place for gems, 72 different ones are found in Idaho.

Potatoes: unsurprisingly there is an Idaho Potato Museum. It has a cafe, and all  the many potato-based delights would surely be a huge favourite in Scotland. Cakes made from potatoes! Tatties AND sugar, what, people of Scotland, is there not to like? It’s a cupcake, made from mashed potatoes, supplied by Paisley Bakeries, Blackfoot. You can have vanilla or chocolate potato cupcakes. That place called Blackfoot in Idaho: it  is unlikely that it was the inspiration for hairy and dungaree-wearing Brummies Blackfoot Sue, in case you were wondering.

In 2017, the total USA potato crop was 442 million hundredweght. In the USA a hundredweight is 100lbs (in the UK it is the much more logical 112 pounds ie a multiple of 14 pounds, which equals one stone - that is why the USA version is not logical).  That is 19 730 000 tons of potatoes, and thus 5 919 00 tons were produced in Idaho. 

A lot of potatoes, maybe, but per head less than the countries of the EU. Which I find surprising. 

The deepest canyon in the entire USA is in Idaho, at 7 993 feet deep. Thus Hell’s Canyon is way more deep than the piffling 6 000 feet deep Grand Canyon. 

Time for a track, form an album I bought on Bandcamp. Bought for totally spurious reasons, such as (a) daft song titles, (b) there are 104 tracks (yes, 104),(c) I think no musical instruments were used for any of the tracks, and (d) it looks like this album is the result of a mid-life crisis, released when Joe was 50 years old. (some people just pack in working at 50 and move to a country where they can’t speak the language). It is an  idiotic and yet endearing collection, so far, (listening to Larry, You’re Freaking Me Out), and almost certainly destined to be ejected by my partner from the car CD player on our next long journey. WAIT! Track 35 features, I think, some sort of instrumentation. Not this one though:

Not many famous people from Idaho. Sarah Palin (boo!) and Lana Turner (of the original The Postman Always Rings Twice).

Twin Falls is a city in Idaho, named because the Snake River had at one time two adjacent waterfalls. After dam construction there are no longer twin falls. A group called Ben Folds Five do a song called Twin Falls. Well, it’s a cover version, the original is by Built To Spill, and it is whiningly, cloyingly annoying. You are all welcome to discover the charms of this song courtesy of the video-sharing website.Similarly the Ron Pope song of the same name.

So that’s Idaho, where in the city of Pocatello a person may not be seen in public without a smile on their face. Did I mention you get lots of potatoes in Idaho?
Another next week.

CC writes.

Americana singer Josh Ritter is from Moscow, Idaho

Josh Ritter - Idaho


  1. I think you need to sort out the spacing issue on these pages!

  2. I thought I got to hear 'Moscow, Idaho' by my old chums Cassandra Complex once again … alas this was not to be!

    1. Good grief I've not heard that for over 30 years.I am at this very moment playing it.

  3. Before moving to the West Coast a decade ago, I wouldn't have given Idaho a second thought. Since then, I have been to all corners of the state and have become quite smitten. Coeur d'Alene is an absolutely beautiful spot on the Washington border. Twin Falls is bucolic, and Mrs. LTL and I have it on a short list of places to relocate in our golden years. Boise is going through an interesting transformation. People living in city centers on the coast are coming to the realization where they live is not paradise. Here in Seattle, the city has become almost unlivable. Prices are out of control. Derelict RVs and lawlessness is rampant. The same can be said for Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The solution? Move to Boise! You had better hurry, though. Companies from Silicon Valley have opened offices. In 2017, metro Boise grew by 40,000. Most of those new residences are from the cities listed above. Today it's paradise, but how long before the West Coast's problems relocate as well? No specific songs from me today, but the Very Most is my favorite band out of Idaho.

    1. That's interesting Brian - I only recently discovered however that I've been pronouncing Boise wrong my whole life (during these frequent moment it comes into conversation!) with only one syllable. Turns out it's got two and it sounds a bit silly to my ears but obviously a great place to locate to.

  4. A bit late here but when I read it last week I just thought of all those songs from 1962 that referred to the dance The Mashed Potoato. There was Mashed Potato Time by Dee Dee Sharp and lots of songs that refer to the dance - Do You Love Me by the Contours, Let's Dance by Chris Montez.

    There was also The Monster Mash by Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kicker 5 - Apt for Halloween month.

    Thanks George for another funny and interesting take on one of the lesser known states (plus the additional local knowledge from Brian).