5 More Songs about New Jersey

As everyone knows, the Super Bowl is being held in New Jersey tonight. For some reason, though, New York is getting all the credit as the host city, and New Jersey gets the shaft once again. Although I wish I could provide a more in-depth analysis of the big game and its repercussions on the Armpit of America, my knowledge of football and interstate economics are pretty limited. So, I’ve decided to write about something I’m only slightly less ignorant about: music.

One of the most viewed posts on this blog was this one: Top 5 Songs About New Jersey, where I shared my thoughts on some songs about the Armpit of America. (In a total coincidence, that post appeared exactly four years ago today!). I figured it was time to highlight some more songs about New Jersey. Just as in the first list, this one will not contain any Bruce Springsteen songs – those were included in a separate post, which I may revisit as well.

Enough with the introductory banter; here are five more songs about New Jersey. If you don’t like them or think there’s something I missed, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

1. “Who Says You Can’t Go Home?” by Bon Jovi.

Wow – despite my total indifference to this guy, he sure shows up a lot on this blog. Anyway, say what you want about the guy, I do respect his loyalty to New Jersey, emphasized by this bittersweet anthem to the state. Sure, he lacks the more finessed and less obvious songwriting approach that his compatriot Bruce has mastered; just consider the first verse of the song:

“I spent 20 years trying to get out of this place
I was looking for something I couldn’t replace
I was running away from the only thing I’ve ever known
Like a blind dog without a bone
I was a gypsy lost in the twilight zone
I hijacked a rainbow and crashed into a pot of gold
I been there, done thatand I ain’t lookin’ back on the seeds I’ve sown,
Saving dimes, spending too much time on the telephone”

What takes Bon Jovi a whole flowery, metaphor-strewn paragraph to convey, Bruce can sum up in a simple, three-word phrase: born to run.

Despite my grievances, the song does fully capture the experience of longing to get out of New Jersey – and then the longing to return once you finally leave. As a recent dropout of New Jersey who still comes back home like every other weekend, I fully understand both sides of the coin.

2. “Never Going Back to Jersey” by Less Than Jake

Speaking of songs that hit me personally, this one again sums up my own (and many other New Jersey residents’) love-hate relationship with the state. Up until recently, I would have been happy to spend the rest of my days in Monmouth County. But when the opportunity to relocate out of the state arose nearly a year ago, I wasn’t too unhappy to leave – maybe even excited to finally get out. And though I can’t say I never go back to Jersey, there are times – like when the traffic on the Long Island Expressway is particularly bad – when I wish I never had to go back!

3. “Theme Song for a New Brunswick Basement Show” by Lifetime

This song earned its spot on the list based on its title alone. Though never much a part of the New Brunswick music scene, I did attend a few basement shows during four years at Rutgers. The song by New Brunswick-based Lifetime really does capture the feeling of being at a basement show – it sounds just like the shitty music you’d expect to hear from drugged out college kids. The lyrics are nothing special (typical cliches about a guy trying to get with a girl), but the song brings back so many memories – again, not that I went to too many basement shows, but just memories of college in general: a totally carefree time when you wouldn’t give a second though to crossing a beer can and red Solo cup littered lawn to climb down rickety steps to a poorly lit basement withe exposed wires to hear a shitty band play some way too loud songs that sound like garbage.

4. “Wildwood Days” by Bobby Rydell

Well I’ve had enough with the self-reflective crap – so let’s move on to something more cheerful. And it doesn’t get more cheerful than this jaunty little tune! Especially after the winter we’ve having, I think we’re all longing for  summer at the Jersey Shore, whether you prefer Wildwood or anywhere else on that golden stretch of land. My visits to Wildwood have been few, being a loyalist of the northern shore towns of Belmar and Point Pleasant, I do have a couple fond memories of that place (most notable of which were winning two chimpanzee statuette bookends at a boardwalk arcade). While the song does celebrate that town, I feel this could be an anthem for the entire shore, no matter your beach town of choice.

5. “Stronger Than the Storm” by some marketing team

This song is more of a dishonorable mention than a top New Jersey song, but it is a song about New Jersey, nonetheless. It was created in a marketing office somewhere as a way to encourage people to return to the shore last summer after all the damage from that little hurricane named Sandy – something which I fully support. Yet, the song is forever connected to a commercial featuring embattled Governor Chris Christie (wearing a pink shirt that does him no favors). Given the current scandals about him and the corrupt way he doled out funding for hurricane recovery, Christie and this song are a disgrace to the state.

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