Pennsylvania

Lately Pennsylvania has been in the news a lot. I keep hearing the name of the state and it triggers a musical memory. It was on the morning show. Was it Connie Kaldor? Priscilla Herdman? Anne Hills?…YES! Anne Hills.

We’re counting on you. Pennsylvania!

Do you have a favorite song, poem, or book about a state?

85 thoughts on “Pennsylvania”

  1. I have never lived in Illinois but I once lived in Chicago

    Chicago
    BY CARL SANDBURG
    Hog Butcher for the World,
    Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
    Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;
    Stormy, husky, brawling,
    City of the Big Shoulders:

    They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
    And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
    And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
    And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
    Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
    Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
    Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
    Bareheaded,
    Shoveling,
    Wrecking,
    Planning,
    Building, breaking, rebuilding,
    Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
    Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
    Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
    Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people,
    Laughing!
    Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. A lot of the songs I like with states mentioned in the lyrics are about states I find otherwise reprehensible in other ways. Jimmie Rodgers, for example, has a lot of songs in that category but the states are all in the south: Peach Pickin’ Time in Georgia, Miss the Mississippi and You, Roll Along, Kentucky Moon, T for Texas, etc.
    A lot of the cowboy songs naturally mention western states that are socially and politically backward.
    I guess I’m measuring everything by those standards lately.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Miss the Mississippi and You is arguably about the river, and the writer could be in any number of states, including Minnesota.

      My favorite song about Mississippi is by Jesse Winchester.

      I think I see a wagon rutted road
      With the weeds growing tall between the tracks,
      And along one side runs a rusty barbed wire fence,
      And beyond that sits an old tar paper shack.

      Mississippi, you’re on my mind
      Mississippi, you’re on my mind
      Oh, Mississippi, you’re on my mind.

      I think I hear a noisy old John Deere
      In a field specked with dirty cotton lint,
      And below the field runs a little shady creek
      And there you’ll find the cool green leaves of mint.

      Mississippi, you’re on my mind
      Mississippi, you’re on my mind
      Oh, Mississippi, you’re on my mind

      I think I smell the honeysuckle vine
      The heavy sweetness like to make me sick,
      And the dogs, my God, they’re hungry all the time,
      And the snakes are sleeping where the weeds are thick.

      Mississippi, you’re on my mind
      Mississippi, you’re on my mind
      Oh, Mississippi, you’re on my mind

      Liked by 3 people

      1. It’s true that Miss the Mississippi is about the river, but it can only be about states where “mockingbirds are singing around my cabin door”.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I hear this playing in my head every time I hear one of the candidates claim he will never return to “your state’s name here” if he loses.

      promises, promises

      and a ringing endorsment for his opponent.

      Like

  3. The Statler Brothers singing “I’ve been everywhere” always reminds me of childhood. My parents liked The Statler Brothers, while they didn’t listen to a lot of music, I do remember them playing The Statler Brothers on 8-track. It’s a song with a nice catchy beat and a good tune and I know there are a lot of versions but that’s the one that kind of gets me. Speaking of Chicago, visited some friends there; drove down on my own when I was about 20 years old and they woke me up singing the Frank Sinatra version of Chicago my kinda town.
    Got a sister out in Pennsylvania so I have been there a few times.

    How can we forget “Minnesota, Minnesota, we are south of Manitoba…“

    Liked by 5 people

  4. For CA, John Steinbeck and any of the many nonfiction works about walking the Pacific Crest Trail. I have read a few. Somehow the books are so much more about California than Oregon or Washington

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Ted Kooser’s “Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps” is a sweet book about living in the rollings hills of southeastern Nebraska, the place he calls home. It’s a small gem of a book.

    I’ve been to Nebraska several times, before I read the book, and I have to admit, the allure of the place escaped me. Perhaps I should go back, or maybe it’s better to leave well enough alone?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. For that state add Oh, Pioneers and My Antonia by Willa Cather, a writer whose star has fallen a bit too far, although her Pulitzer Prize novel is about the worst of all the poor winners of that prize.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I have driven over many parts of that state and find it a physical beauty, but I am drawn to thep prairie. But the culture of that state puts me off.

      Like

  6. Montana author, my former lecturer, Norman Maclean. Nonfiction. Young Men and Fire. A River Runs Through It and Other Stories. The Other Stories is the better half. Redford changed the central point when he made the movie version of River Runs. But movie is worth a watch.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Sorry I have blitzed this. Wound tight as a drum today. Trying to name writing that uses the state setting very strongly for each state.
    So add for South Carolina, Pat Conroy’s The Water is Wide, which I only thought of because the movie version of it was just on TV this morning.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I love a blitz day. I read all this morning so didn’t even get on the trail until close to 10 o’clock and when I opened the post was so surprised to see 40 comments already in the morning. Oh wonderful day on the trail.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. PrairieErth: A Deep Map by William Least Heat-Moon is an in depth accounting of Chase County, Kansas and the people who live there. He must have traveled every square inch of the area, spoken with everyone who lives there, and given such a detailed account of the place that you can almost see the tall grasses of the prairie grow. “Living in Kansas is a contradiction.” The book is perhaps not as well known as Heat-Moon’s “Blue Highways,” and at 600-plus pages, it’s a bit of a tome, but I found it a delightful read.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was trying to think of Kansas. How could I forget that. I have driven pretty much all the roads of that county to fill time when stuck in Eureka for a weekend.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Hawaii was first of the Michener books that I ever read and it actually was life-changing for me. At least in how I travel. Reading about how long it took to get for Massachusetts down around South America to Hawaii (and the conditions on the ships) made me realize that it didn’t matter what I went through when I was traveling. Even if I crammed into a small seat in the back of a full airplane on a 20 hour flight to Singapore, it’s still better than what they went through.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. I’m very fond of “Centennial” as well. Michener, for good or ill, was my “go to” when I was working in a place and wanted to know it’s story.

          His “Kent State” has stuck with me over the years.

          Like

  9. Oklahoma, but not because of the musical. Well maybe a little because of the musical. When I was in the fourth grade the school that I was in had little shows each month and each grade was in charge of one show. The year that I was in that school my grade was assigned January. Some brilliant teacher took the Oklahoma tune and made a January song out of it so it went “Ja..,,,,,January, when the winds go sweeping down the plains”. Unfortunately I don’t really remember all the rest of it but I do remember that we were all on stage arranged as if we were the days on the January calendar. I was the 16th.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Wyoming. My Friend Flicka, and it’s two unknown sequels. Not that great, decent children’s book, but all 3 make excellent use of geography of Wyoming

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Central Oklahoma Is my land, it’s my country,
    Eastern Oklahoma is a beautiful sight.
    Northern Oklahoma might as well be Kansas,
    Never go to Southern Oklahoma at night.

    – John Fulbright

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Whole afternoon has been spent dealing with medical issues for about everyone in my family except me. Grandkids’ school is awash with Covid because we just had to play football you know. Sandy’s pneumonia is back full force. My son’s renal cancer surgery now cannot be done until after a hernia surgery which cannot be done until an infection is knocked down. They are trying to get it done fast but so far they cannot get scheduling done slowly.

    Like

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