Greetings, Wooters! It's time again for my weekly sojourn in a different state as I try to find the perfect song for each of them. After being run out of Nebraska on a rail by angry locals, it's time to try and do right by the Silver State:
The state: Nevada
The song: "Nevada" by Riders in the Sky
This is usually the part where there's a video. But there is no video that I can find for this tune. So here's a link to the iTunes page if you want to buy it because, obviously, you wouldn't go anywhere else and try to obtain it through other means. Sorry about that.
I thought Nevada would present a pretty severe challenge; just about anyone can rattle off at least two or three songs about Las Vegas and the miasma of joy and failure that hangs on that place like cheap cologne. But Nevada? The whole state? I didn't know of any songs about the whole state. And once you leave Vegas there's what, Reno? And then what? 30 more people across the state? I'm kidding, but only a little. Nevada's actually growing pretty quickly, but it's still only packing about 2.5 million people spread out over a little more than 110,000 square miles; that's pretty sparse. I didn't think that would mean a whole lot of people were inspired to sing about the place.
But how could you NOT be inspired to sing about THIS?!
But it turns out I was wrong; they might not have the quantity of a New York or a California, but they've got quality. The only problem is most Nevada-based songs are so old that no one's got a decent YouTube video for them, not even a slideshow just to give an excuse to put a song up. Which is a shame, because if you haven't heard Gene Autry's "Night Time in Nevada" you're missing out on something. It doesn't quite make the cut here because it's more of an "I miss you" song than an ode to the state, but that's where Riders In the Sky get it right. The whole song is that old-timey "Western" style, which I put in quotes because it's not Western in the sense that a grizzled old man in a cowboy hat wrote it from the back of a horse. It's "Western" in the sense of old variety shows with Western themes, and these cowboys were probably wearing matching color-coded outfits with spotless ten gallon hats and chrome replica six shooters.
Inauthentic as it may be, it still captures the lingering Wild West spirit you'll feel if you ever visit. When I lived in LA we would make occasional trips along the I-15, a scorched, molten black ribbon of asphalt connecting Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The trip is about four and a half hours, and you have never been truly alone until you've overheated and sat on the edge of the highway in a desert praying that a car will come along and pick you up.
I have a soft spot for Nevada; one of the weirdest weekends of my life happened on my way to Vegas and I wound up getting engaged to my wonderful wife there. The story is long and riddled with profanity, but if you're interested the (NSFW) three-part story can be found here, here, here, and here. Alright, shameless self-promotion aside, I really like your song, Nevada. I think it kind of captures the spirit of the state: some people might look at it and say, "That's old and dusty and kind of cheesy," and Nevada folks will look them right in the eye and say, "Then kiss off. We don't need you."
Runner-Up: "Nevada" by Deer Tick
Most Laughable Suggestion: "These Are All the Shapes Nevada Could Have Been" by Mary's Danish
What do you think of Nevada's chosen song? Want to suggest a song for New Hampshire? Get in the comments and go!
Flickr photo Nevada Day 2008 by Rick Cooper used under a Creative Commons License.