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Sunday 24 September 2023

An A-Z of American Cities -X,Y and Z

We have finally reached the end of our epic journey and we are rewarded with a couple of tricky ones 

Marc, who has made a number of useful contributions to this series, pointed out that there is a city called Xenia in Ohio. 

I found two dreadful songs Xenia, Ohio by The Kiss That Took a Trip and Xenia, Ohio April 3rd 1974 by Cloudwarmer .I'm not prepared to sully these pages with them but they are available here and here if you are the masochist type

We are on firmer ground for Y with three songs. Rol wrongly assumed that I had Youngtown  a song by Bruce Springsteen from the Ghost of Tom Joad scheduled but I had completely overlooked it . Youngstown is the 11th biggest city in the state of Ohio with a population of just over 60K..As befits the Boss and this particular album Youngstown appears to be a blue collar Rust Belt city with a history of steel production

It is a relatively short hop from Ohio to Michigan and the city of Ypsilanti the home of East Michigan University. Understandably its name is often shortened to Ypsi. It has a population of  around 20k and was originally a  trading post on the Huron River from 1809. The associated song is For the Widows in Paradise, For the Fatherless in Ypsilanti  from the album Sufjan Stevens presents Greetings from Michegan - The Great Lake State. My copy is from an Uncut compilation Across the Great Divide - Music Inspired By the Band.

We are now heading South West to the state of Arizona and the city of Yuma. It has a population of  c95K and is known for its weather extremes. Of any populated place in the contiguous United States, Yuma is the driest, the sunniest, and the least humid, has the lowest frequency of precipitation, and has the highest number of sunny days per year 3.10 to Yuma was a 2007 Western action drama film staring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. I was all set to feature a song of that name by Frankie Lane until Ernie reminded me about the Sandy Denny version.

We are on to Z now and I had really hoped to include Zip City a song by the Drive-By Truckers from their Southern Rock Opera opus. However Zip City in Alabama is only a small unincorporated community in Lauderdale County. Even World Population Review does not award it City status so you will have to make do with a picture instead.

Worry not, however, as we do have a Z. There is a city called Zion in Lake County, Illinois which has a population of around 25K.It was founded in 1901 by John Alexander Dowie a Scots/Australian evangelical minister and faith hero. As Ernie pointed out in an e-mail there are hundreds of songs with the word Zion in the title to choose from. I've gone for Gates of Zion by The Mighty Diamonds.

Thanks to all those that contributed with suggestions. I hope you've enjoyed this series and found it educational and have discovered some new songs. I know I have.

Bruce Springsteen - Youngstown

 Sufjan Stevens -For the Widows in Paradise, For the Fatherless in Ypsilanti

Sandy Denny - 3.10 to Yuma

The Mighty Diamonds - Gates of Zion

There will be nothing to see here for a couple weeks as we are off for our tradition Autumn Highland Clearance of Charity Shops


  1. Our mutual friend Pete will know more, but the 3.10 to Yuma you refer to is a remake of a 1950s film. Both are worth watching.

    1. That may explain why I have a version by Frankie Lane!

  2. Congratulations on another excellent series. Look forward to hearing what delights you find in Dingwall, Dalcross and Drumnadrochit.

  3. A hugely enjoyable series which I will miss... look forward to whatever you replace it with. Enjoy your September holiday, look forward to seeing you back here before the October one.

  4. Thanks for the shoutout! Coincidentally I passed by Ypsilanti just two weeks ago on my way to Ann Arbor (home of the University of Michigan). I was thinking of mentioning it in my earlier comment, but figured you were all set on "Y" cities. Yuma is in Arizona, though, not Alabama. The former is desert; the latter is extremely humid. Anyway, enjoy your time off!
    -- Marc

  5. Bit harsh on the 'dreadful' Xenia, Ohio tracks which, as a stubborn old curmudgeon I listened to in their entirety (well almost). They're just........different and er.......long!