New England, Of Thee We Sing

Pumpkins in the SunThere are lots of songs about New England, even if you don’t include the ones about specific states, cities, etc. The thought came to me when I heard that the Decemberists have a song out called “O New England.” Time for a playlist of songs about New England, I decided.

If you thought, based on the photo, that the playlist includes the song “When Fall Comes to New England,” you’d be wrong. If you thought, based on the first paragraph, that it would comprise songs about New England, you’d be wrong again.

As Enough Cowbell noted, the the Decemberists’ song goes on about New York, which is not in New England. As for the other song, Kirsty MacColl wasn’t singing about New England either.

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I was going to include the rather wonderful Jonathan Richman song “New England,” but only a 30-second clip is available at Lala, where I’d already started making the playlist. And I realized that there was a pattern in the song titles that cries out for three more songs: “E New England,” “I New England,” and “U New England.”

Someone please write the missing songs. Feel free to take liberties with the titles. “I, New England” sounds like a winner. I’m less sure about “(Nothing Compares 2) U New England.”

Kirsty MacColl

Two of the musicians I’ve mentioned most often here are Jill Sobule and Amy Rigby. If I had to pick a British singer-songwriter similar to those two, it would be Kirsty MacColl. She’s probably best known for her collaboration with The Pogues on “Fairytale of New York” and for her cover of Billy Bragg’s “A New England.”

But I’d say she was an even better songwriter than singer, so here are a couple of her own songs that show her knack for offbeat catchiness. First up is “Caroline,” a song about a love triangle from an unusual angle.

Then there’s “Don’t Come the Cowboy With Me, Sonny Jim,” a countryish song (later covered by Kelly Willis).

Looking at Amazon (USA) for Kirsty’s stuff is rather disappointing: a lot of it is on expensive import. If I were going for an import, I’d probably go all the way to Amazon UK, and consider the single CD compilation Galore or the box set From Croydon to Cuba. Even with the weakness of the dollar and the cost of airmail, the latter in particular looks like a very good deal.

If I was still in the UK, I would be unable to resist From Croydon to Cuba. As well as the 60+ tracks, there’s that lovingly assembled, booklet-included box-setty goodness.

The site freeworld/KirstyMacColl.com is well worth visiting (and supporting – the above affiliate link to Amazon UK benefits freeworld, rather than Changing Way). Unfortunately, one of the things you can read about there is Kirsty’s death, at the age of 41.