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Wednesday, 11 September 2019

State of the Union - Virginia

George writes:
James Drury (Jr.) - The Virginian

Does anyone out there (is there anyone reading these pages apart Charity Chic and myself????) remember that 1960s cowboy programme The Virginian? It sticks in my mind because in England it was broadcast at ten past eight at night. And that marked my bedtime. (Now that I am older I can stay up later). So I can recall that The Virginian wore black, and that Doug McClure was in it. Mr McClure went on to greater things in the films The Land That Time Forgot and then The People That Time Forget. Here’s the theme tune, play it (older readers), it will be familiar to you

And from The Virginian to…………..The Virginian

Neko Case played a concert in Lisbon in June, but I did not attend.

Doug McClure, not Neko Case, and not The Virgininian.

It has been said that the Bay City Rollers have not featured in the pages of CCM often enough, so here’s a first. On their 1977 album It’s A Game is song called Sweet Virginia. Having read the lyrics I am not sure if Virginia is used as a name or the state; having listened to the song all the way through, and a live version I have made the ruling it’s not good enough for inclusion anyway. It was not too difficult a decision to make. That song is certainly not a cracker, but this song by Cracker is (a cracker), and in a first on the series it is not about a city or town, but a river, the James River (named by British colonists after King James VI) which is entirely in the state of Virginia (and thus the rules of the series are adhered to). From the Gentleman’s Blues album. Camper Van Beethoven cover this song, which is not that surprising given that Cracker man David Lowery is also a Camper Van Beethoven man.

And before you ask, Virginia Plain is excluded, it has nothing to do with the state. Similarly that T. Rex song about Virginia Waters, which actually is meant to be about Virginia Water, which is in Surrey (England). It is the most expensive place to buy a house in the entire United Kingdom bar a few boroughs in London.

The state motto of Virginia (Brian, are you reading this?) is sic semper tyrannis which in effect but not literally means that tyrants will always be overthrown.  
That’s Virginia, home to Foamhenge (yes, a polystyrene replica of those strangely unimpressive stones in Wiltshire, England)
That’s Virginia, home to the largest office building in the world

And Virginia was the birthplace for Alvin Pleasant Delaney Carter, his wife Sarah and sister-in-law Maybelle, and also to some other quite well-known people (Mr. G. Washington, Mr. T. Jefferson, Shirley Maclaine and her brother, Mr. S. Earle, Arthur Ashe, and some others).

And the official bat of Virginia is the Virginia big-eared bat

Christ, he’s got bigger ears than me! (not quite! - Ed)

14 more to go.

CC writes:
Not sure if this Vic Chestnutt song has anything to do with the state

Vic Chestnutt - Virginia

Not sure if this is the same as the Bay City Rollers number

Rolling Stones - Sweet Virginia


  1. Before "The Virginian" there was another western called "Sugarfoot" which was a bit quirky for the late 1950's/early 1960's, although I didn't see either of those TV shows til later and by then I had discovered girls so TV westerns weren't as important.
    I do remember the them tune from "Champion, the Wonder Horse" and, for some strange reason, I remember "Circus Boy" which starred future Monkee, Micky Dolenz. My folks didn't get a TV until 1964-ish and by that time I was 13 going on 14 so my TV likes were the brand new "Top Of The Pops", "The Avengers", "Z-Cars" and "Ready, Steady Go". There were a lot of crap comedy and quiz shows back then, so nothing's changed that much.

  2. Yes, George: I am indeed reading this every week. Can't say I understand it all, but I'm reading it … ! We in Germany had 'Gunsmoke' around bedtime, with James Arness as Marshal Matt Dillon. Aaah, the golden 70's … !!

  3. Of course I remember The Virginian and as I'm a few years older than you I did get to stay up and watch it. It was on Friday Nights, straight after Brownies! My favourite was Trampas however and not The Virginian himself but listening to that theme takes me right back. That was very much the popular genre of the late 60s - Cowboy shows.

    Like Neko Case so liked the song you shared by her. Shame the BCR's song missed the cut because as you say, there just isn't enough Roller goodness around here. It was probably s***e though.

    Not many songs about places in Virginia - I didn't get as far in my series sadly.

    Great post as ever.

  4. Just checked and the BCR's have never featured on these pages ... yet

    1. You know what you have to do. If you can't bring yourself to feature the lads themselves, maybe Nick Lowe's tribute to Rollermania would be acceptable. I can oblige if needed.

    2. Why not
      I feel a gauntlet being thrown down

  5. Is Virginia Plain not named after cigarettes or tobacco, presumably made in Virginia? And therefore Virginia Plain does have a connection to the state?

    Good call on the Rollers though.

    I'm not usually this pedantic but hey, it's early Roxy and I'm biased and I still sometimes think VP is the finest single ever recorded.


  6. Yes, for five years I lived south of the Mason-Dixon line. Virginia is one of three states where I can claim past residency. I did, however, live just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. The rest of the state is quite different. Loudoun and Fairfax near our nation's capital rank 1 and 3 on the list of the wealthiest counties in America. Believe me, it pays to suck from the teat of the government. While the rest of the country suffers, the housing market, employment and the rest are recession proof. As for music, I offer House in Virginia from Brendan Benson. One Mississippi is one of those underrated albums that makes me scratch the ol' egg.

  7. Multiple hats off to you George for a post that includes tracks from Neko, Cracker AND Vic Chesnutt. That's tremendous. But isn't it the bane of all blogsters, list makers and encyclopaedists to be called out for what you haven't included? I've just watched again, for what must be the 100th time, Laurel and Hardy's filmic version of The Trail of the Lonesome Pine. Just perfect and utterly sublime