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Wednesday, 4 September 2019

State of the Union - New Jersey

George writes
(Above: the best musician from this week’s state)

Week 35. New Jersey. Long Branch is famous as being the place of death of president James Garfield. And Long Branch is the birth place of wife-stabber Norman Mailer. He also wrote some books.  New Jersey is also very famously the birthplace of three of The Four Seasons (Bob Gaudio is the exception). Interestingly, the main wikipedia page for New Jersey fails to mention that Franki Valli was born in Newark. It does though, list the less famous and noteworthy  Bruce Springsteen as a native of the state. Believe it or not I did listen to the relevant Springsteen songs for this piece, from his second album and The River. All the way through. Almost. I even listened to cover versions, and they were worse than the originals, and let me tell you, there’s a lot of them on Bandcamp.

The state is indeed named after the largest of the Channel Islands, Jersey. The state is 189 times bigger, in terms of area, than the island, and its population is 83 times that of the island. 

Now, I could have cheated and just picked two songs from the eighty-eight that Matt Farley has written about towns and cities of New Jersey, but having sampled three I suspect that all 88 are uniformly rubbish. Even worse than Union City Blue.

(Matt Farley, he of the 88 rubbishy songs)

I did discover a track from Jigsaw Records in Seattle, Washington (608 NW 65th Street, Ballard, Seattle, to be precise) but did not splash out the $1 for it. Instead I coughed up zero cents for this indie tune:

(Singer of the B52s)

Frank Bascombe lives in New Jersey. OK, he’s a fictional character, the mainstay of some of Richard Ford’s novels, but it’s a New Jersey connection. The author himself was not born in the state, and he seems to live in one of the New England states so not in New Jersey. 

Even more famous than Frank Bascombe, and real-life human beings, John Travolta, Paul Simon, and Meryl Streep were all born in the state, but at different times and different places. And the B-52s bloke who looks like Kenneth WIlliams was born in Newark

(Kenneth Williams)

I discovered that the New York american football teams the Giants and Jets play in……...yes, New Jersey.. That’s a bit like Manchester United who also don’t play in the city of their name.Or West Ham United, who play in Stratford, Brighton and Hove Albion who play in neither, but in Falmer, 
Second track, a rather gothic country tune, by Kevin Welch.

And that’s New Jersey. I should admit to you all (well, all twenty three of you who read this page on a Wednesday) that I really struggled for music. I spent three hours listening to music on Bandcamp that was really quite depressing. I even emailed Charity Chic himself for suggestions (I rejected them, there’s gratitude for you).

That’s New Jersey, where it is illegal to put petrol in your own car at a petrol station
That’s New Jersey, where it is illegal to wear a bullet-proof vest while committing a murder.
And finally, that’s New Jersey, where it is illegal to slurp your soup (thank christ my old grandad did not live there).

Eat silently please, you’re in New Jersey!

Another one next week.

Charity Chic writes:
23 people reading this is a bit ambitious George
One of my suggestions which you inexplicably chose to ignore

Bruce Springsteen - Jersey Girl


  1. I realise this isn't realise this isn't the most important issue raised by your otherwise excellent article, but West Ham's ground is just over a mile from West Ham itself. Grimsby Town playing in Cleethorpes might be a better example (although even that is only a few miles away).

    1. Trying to think of Scottish examples
      The only one I can come up with is that Falkirk stadium is nearer Grangeemouth than Falkirk

    2. In my defence I think that West Ham United are actually now not inside the West Ham boundary, although they are still close to West Ham. CC, but is the Falkirk ground still within the bounds of Falkirk?

    3. I would need to defer to our learned friend who golfs in said parish

  2. Partick Thistle of course play in Maryhill as opposed to Partick!

    1. If last Friday's result is anything to go by it looks like Dundee don't play in that city either!

  3. This has turned out to be a football ground post!

    New Jersey - Why Frank Sinatra of course from Hoboken, NJ. That other Frankie though, Valli would be my favourite and if I remember correctly you visited my blog when I wrote about the song The Night so you possibly agree.

    You guys have nothing good to say about Bruce Springsteen do you - I went to see the film Blinded By The Light last week telling the story of how a young Asian lad from Bury Park, Luton fell for the music of the bard from Azbury Park. A true story apparently as otherwise I would have found the plotline a bit unbelievable.

    Oh and Whitney is from NJ although I doubt if her music is really your bag either.

    Thanks for the introduction as ever to some songs I wouldn't have known about.

    1. Glad someone has got the comments thread back on track!
      I am a Sprongsteen fan (Geoge isn't)
      Mrs CC went to see Blinded by the Light and really enjoyed it

  4. I quite like Spingsteen as well as Sprongsteen!

    1. You do know that I am now going to spend about three hours searching "sprongsteen"!

  5. No "Jersey Girl"?!!?!? What sort of sick, twisted puppy are you?!?!? Thankfully CC restored order!

    You did mention that Paul Simon is from New Jersey and he wrote about it in a song called "America":

    "Cathy, I'm lost, I said though I knew she was sleeping
    And I'm empty and aching and I don't know why
    Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
    They've all come to look for America
    All come to look for America
    All come to look for America..."

  6. George writes

    (Above: the best musician from this week’s state)

    Is that Billy Joel? I thought he was from the other side of the river.

    (Also, you forgot Jon Bon Jovi. Shame on you, George.)

    1. I did not forget about JBJ, I censored him.

  7. 'That’s a bit like Manchester United who also don’t play in the city of their name'