We're deep in the thick of this thing now. Every week I move down the list of states alphabetically and try to find a new state song. The rules are as simple as they are constricting: the state name must be in the song title, and the song must talk about the state. Some weeks have been easier than others, but this week was a cinch. To the Garden State!
The state: New Jersey
The song: "I Like Jersey Best" by John Pizzarelli
New Jersey gets a bad rap. Despite what pop culture would lead you to believe, New Jersey is not all Sopranos, Jersey Shore, and Real Housewives rejects. Kevin Smith lives there, too. Kidding, I'm kidding. New Jersey's got a lot of awesome stuff, and the reason you're always hearing about the terrible stereotypes that can be found there is (I'm told) jealous New Yorkers trying to take them down a peg for daring to defy the "New York City is all that exists in the world" mentality. But come on! They were one of the original 13 colonies to lead the Revolution. That's cooler than having an "Original 6" NHL team. And despite the existence of uncultured heathens (which you can find anywhere), New Jersey is home to Rutgers AND Princeton.
Yes, and turnpikes. Okay, get it out of your system.
Despite all the bad rap it gets, there are nice parts of New Jersey. Like, "I could live here" nice. It's true! Don't believe all the stuff about smoke stacks and organized crime and low-density industrial parks. New Jersey has its own charm, it's just content to keep it hidden away inside where the people who'll appreciate it most can see. That way New York City gets its attention fix and doesn't flip out about the Giants and Jets.
So the song isn't what you might expect, with its light jazzy little hook. Maybe you were expecting some Springsteen. Or Bon Jovi. Or Bouncing Souls. I couldn't really argue with those (except Bon Jovi, but no one actually listens to Bon Jovi unless it's ironically, right? I hope? I mean, I liked Young Guns 2 as much as the next guy, but yikes.), but Pizzarelli's tune hits the vibe we're looking for perfectly as he works his way down a list of Jersey-ish stuff he enjoys and where to find it. It's almost as if he wrote the song with this project in mind. It almost feels like I'm bringing in a ringer, but after sweating through the last three or four weeks of struggling to even find a VIDEO for a song, I'm taking the easy victory. New Jersey, I like your song. Do you?
Oh, and PS: The United States of Songs will be on a one-week hiatus while I'm spending the holidays in Hawaii. That's right. Hawaii. Envy me!
Runner-Up: "So Jersey" by Bouncing Souls
Most Laughable Suggestion: "Woke Up This Morning" by Alabama 3
What do you think about New Jersey's pick? What would YOU choose to represent The Garden State? Are you jealous of Randall winning the in-law lottery and having to visit them every year in Hawaii? Let us know in the comments!
Flickr photo New Jersey State Route 120 by Doug Kerr used under a Creative Commons License.