A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Monday, September 15, 2014

State of Mind

One of my nerdy habits is to make random music playlists with a theme. I have my "Manuary" list with ballads sung by and about men, "Happy Happy Joy Joy" with songs about happy things, and "Time Flies on Wings of Lightening" with tunes about the seconds, hours and minutes that fill our lives. In that spirit, I thought I would create a "Tax Return" playlist, because after all, I'm a tax accountant. I've spent a lot of time over the past few months looking at federal, state, and local income tax returns.

So, without further ado, here is a Federal and 50-state playlist for you, along with some explanations of why I choose certain songs. Admittedly, some of the connections are a little tenuous, but this is hard. If any of you have better suggestions, I'm all ears.

The Feds - "Taxman," The Beatles; "Born in the USA," Bruce Springsteen; "I am a Patriot," The Burns Sisters; and of course this gem:

"50 State Song," Animaniacs

Alabama - "Sweet Home Alabama," Lynyrd Skynyrd (If you haven't seen it, there is a most excellent documentary that will explain the lines about Muscle Shoals and Swampers!)
Alaska - "Frozen" movie soundtrack (because this is true of Alaska very often)
Arizona - "It's Too Darn Hot," from the Kiss Me Kate soundtrack (because this is true of Arizona very often!)
Arkansas - "I'm a Bad, Bad Man," from Annie Get Your Gun ("There's a girl in Arkansas/The Sheriff is her brother in law" - we're talking quality rhymes here)
California - Beach Boys (all their songs sound the same, so there's a bunch of options)
Colorado - "High Flying, Adored," Evita (because they have high mountains. And legal weed)
Connecticut - "Rain in Spain," My Fair Lady ("In Hartford, Hereford, and Hampshire"...Hartford is in CT!)
Delaware - "Long Way," Antje Duvekot (this one mentions several states but Delaware is slim pickings!)
District of Columbia - Okay, this one I don't own, but it makes me laugh: "Washington, D.C.," The Magnetic Fields. Also, AC/DC.
Florida - Disney, Disney, and more Disney
Georgia - "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," The Charlie Daniels Band (honorable mention: "Georgia on my Mind," Ray Charles)
Hawaii - Jack Johnson (he was raised in Hawaii and a lot of his songs are about surfing)
Idaho - "Hello, Little Girl," Into the Woods (Idaho has wolves, this song is sung by a wolf)
Illinois - "Chicago" soundtrack (If I track down the CD, which I have somewhere, could also use "Illinoise" by Sufjan Stevens)
Indiana - "Gary, Indiana" from The Music Man
Iowa - "Iowa Stuborn" also from The Music Man
Kansas - "Over the Rainbow" - of the many versions of this Wizard of Oz classic, I love Eva Cassidy's (even if you're not in Kansas anymore, this is a great song)
Kentucky - "Fugue for the Tinhorns," Guys and Dolls ("I got the horse right here" - Kentucky derby, anyone?)
Louisiana - The Princess and the Frog soundtrack (honorable mention: "Down at the Twist and Shout," Mary Chapin Carpenter)
Maine - "Carrying the Banner," Newsies Soundtrack ("Remember the Maine!" was the battle cry of Hearst, one of the newspaper publishers mentioned in Newsies)
Maryland - "Good Morning, Baltimore" from Hairspray
Massachusetts - "Sweet Caroline," Glee version because it's better than Neil Diamond (this is sort of a theme song for the one and only Boston Red Sox)
Michigan - Dreamgirls soundtrack, or anything Mo-town
Minnesota - When I think of Minnesota, I always think of the radio show A Prairie Home Companion.  If you don't listen to it, you should. One of my current favorite groups from the show is the Wailin Jennys, and while they're technically from Canada, I associate them with Minnesota.
Mississippi - O, Brother, Where Art Thou (honorable mention: "Mississippi," Sheryl Crow - because doesn't everyone stay in Mississippi a day too long?)
Missouri - "Kansas City," Oklahoma
Montana - "Sweet Baby James," James Taylor (somehow, this song evokes cowboys and open space, which is my stereotype of Montana)
Nebraska - "Fields of Gold," Eva Cassidy (there's a lot of corn, fields, and cornfields)
Nevada - "Luck be a Lady," Guys and Dolls soundtrack
New Hampshire - "My Girl," The Temptations (did you know that NH is the only state to have an all female congressional delegation AND a woman governor? Guess it's easier if you have only two representatives in Congress)
New Jersey - Bruce Springsteen, obviously. "Born to Run" or "Atlantic City" seem appropriate.
New Mexico - "Santa Fe," Rent soundtrack (or the Santa Fe song from Newsies)
New York - this state overflows with options - you got your "Empire State of Mind," "NYC" from Annie,  the entire soundtrack of Guys and Dolls and 42nd Street, so much more.  Unfortunately I don't have a recording of it, but Hugh Jackman sings a dreamy version of "I Happen to Like New York."
North Carolina - "Carolina On My Mind," James Taylor (the wording could be North or South, but since Mr. Taylor was raised in North Carolina, I went with North)
North Dakota - "Rocky Racoon," The Beatles (Rocky lived in the black hills of Dakota!)
Ohio - Annie Get Your Gun (did you know Annie Oakley was from Ohio?)
Oklahoma - "Oklahoma," Oklahoma (duh! this song actually inspired this whole playlist idea, because I like to sing this song to myself when I review Oklahoma tax returns)
Oregon - "Citywide Rodeo," The Weepies (For whatever reason, I had a lot of friends and roommates in college from eastern Oregon. Pendleton, OR has a big rodeo so I weirdly associate rodeos with Oregon)
Pennsylvania - 1776 soundtrack
Rhode Island - Dan in Real Life soundtrack (it takes place partially in Rhode Island)
South Carolina - "Time," Hootie and the Blowfish (a little research turned up the fact that this band was organized at the University of South Carolina!)
South Dakota - "Train Going South," Peter Breinholt (because if you're in North Dakota, why would you not want to go south? Also, speaking of the Dakotas, there's a great clip about the Dakotas from The West Wing (yes, it always comes back to that show) - watch the episode "We Killed Yamamoto" because I can't find it on Youtube)
Tennessee - "Walking in Memphis," Marc Cohen
Texas - "Wide Open Spaces," The Dixie Chicks
Utah - Mormon Tabernacle Choir and/or BYU singing groups
Vermont - Sound of Music soundtrack (Did you know the Von Trapp family settled in Vermont and established a lodge?)
Virginia - "The Lees of Old Virginia," 1776 (and of course, "Meet Virginia" by Train is a solid choice as well)
Washington - "I Love the Rain the Most," Joe Purdy (It rains in Washington, a lot apparently)
West Virginia - "Coal," Kathy Mattea
Wisconsin - "Tire Swing," Kimya Dawson (there's a fleeting reference to Madison, WI)
Wyoming - "Why Do I?" by Joe Purdy is a song about loneliness (because WY is the least populated state per square mile in the lower 48, seems legit), and I always want to say "WHY?-oming"

So there you have it, the jams to listen to while you review tax returns late at night in a windowless office. Can you tell I listen to a lot of Broadway? Happy End of Busy Season to me, and to all the tax accountants who are still sober enough to read this!

Monday, September 1, 2014

In the Abstract

Today is Labor Day, where we celebrate the working men and women who have made America great!  It is somewhat ironic that many of my politically conservative friends love the movie Newsies, which celebrates unionization. For some reason, it's kind of a Mormon movie - probably has something to do with the upbeat singing and family friendly feel. Yet the movie has an undeniable progressive bent - the whole movie is about a working class union formed to fight evil capitalists. The fact that many of my friends like this movie gives me hope that we could someday discuss politics amicably. I think sometimes we have discussions about things like SNAP or Medicaid or Social Security in the abstract, and when that happens, it's very easy to distance ourselves from the problems of others. But when a movie (or book, or newspaper article) humanizes the real people who face these problems, I think it's easier to have a real conversation about them without demonizing (or overly lionizing) the people who face really tough situations. Maybe, deep down, my conservative friends can sympathize with and understand why unions might be a good idea for our society. Doesn't mean we won't still disagree, but I hope we can see each other's point of view. Go, unions!

BYU Vocal Point, Newsies Medley