Monday, March 29, 2010

Traveling to Utah

   If You Want Space, Go To Utah:
   Christine Lavin

Years ago, on a 4th of July weekend, I heard a radio show which played a song for each of the fifty American states.  I remember this was the first time I heard Christine Lavin's "If You Want Space, Go to Utah."  You might like it; it's spare, acoustic, a lone voice joined later by others in a marching, choral affirmation.

The song dates to 1983 and is on The Bellevue Years, a 2000 compilation of 1980's songs, an album so titled because Lavin had been working at Bellevue Hospital at the time.  Lavin is funny, and the album's title presages the theme of fractured relationships that runs through its songs.  The refrain of "If You Want Space, Go to Utah" goes:

     If you want space,  go to Utah
     If you want time –– pal you got the next 50 years
     but if you want love, hey, hey look no further
     Than the woman who's looking at you here

A fine song, but a sidetrack here because I am actually trying to compile my own 50-song version of that old 4th of July playlist.

I will begin alphabetically with a song for Alabama.

"Sweet Home Alabama" (1974) by Lynrd Skynrd comes to mind, and I go to my music library to listen to it. There I notice other songs that begin with the word "sweet,” and still more with "sweet" elsewhere in their titles. This discovery suggests a second potential music topic: song groupings organized around a common descriptor in the title.

Then I notice that among these "sweet" titles are songs with the same title but different lyrics: "Sweet Lorraine" by both Nat King Cole (1940) and Patty Griffin (1996), and "Sweet Thing" by Van Morrison (1969) and Mick Jagger (1993).  This suggests a third potential topic for music exploration: songs which, by title, look the same but that are quite different.

I realize I am adrift and that these burgeoning song-topics are distracting me from my original 50-songs-for-50-states project, so I refocus and return to that project. Where I now see that "If You Want Space, Go To Utah" is hardly a sidetrack but a worthy song for Utah, the 44th stop along the main alphabetical track.(Actually, it "remains" an apt Utah-song, since I first heard it designated as such on that long ago 4th of July radio show.)

Now I've just got to work out the other 49 state-songs, 48 if I go with "Sweet Home Alabama."  I'll try not to ramble off again into the Utah of other song-topics.

By the way, Bellevue Hospital was founded in 1736 and is the oldest public Hospital in the United States.  Utah is newer and became the 45th state on January 4, 1896.


Jan said...

It's fun to read your blog, especially when it reminds me of songs I like.

I LOVE Christine Lavin, my latest favorite is "Mysterious Woman." And Sweet Lorraine is a song my Mom used to play on the piano. I used to look for her paperclips in the music books, so I could play her favorite songs. I still have that book and still play the song now and then.

Elizabeth said...

Greetings from Buster in New York!
He has never been to Utah or Alabama but likes your taste in music!

Anne said...

"...go to Utah" is my favorite cut on my CD gift from you. Her voice is wonderfully warm. Dear Bro, you have arrived at your destiny. Love you, Anne

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