New Jersey Music Tour
Story by George W. Forman
The latest members of the New Jersey Hall of Fame will be inducted this weekend in Asbury Park. This year’s group of honorees from the world of music includes Connie Francis, Tommy James, and Wyclef Jean of the Fugees. While I’m at it, I should pause for a second to also congratulate fellow Union High School alum, actor Ray Liotta. New Jersey is important to the world of music…the phonograph was invented here by Thomas Edison, Camden was the original home to what later became RCA Victor, plus there are the many singers who achieved worldwide fame. Songwriters have loved our state too, as there are a number of mentions of cities, roads, attractions, etc. in popular music. So let’s do a little “Jersey Bounce” around the musical map. (A hit, for among others, Jersey native Ozzie Nelson.)
Our roadways have been namechecked in a few places. The New Jersey Turnpike can be found in Chuck Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me”, Simon & Garfunkel’s “America”, and Bruce Springsteen’s “State Trooper”. The Parkway has its own special anthem from Jersey favorites Holme, with the “Garden State Parkway Boogie” And one of the hits of the Big Band Era was “Pompton Turnpike” by Charlie Barnet. Checking out the cities here on the shore, Bruce gave us “Greetings …” and spent a 4th of July in Asbury, but before that, Frank Sinatra once asked “Is this Granada I see or only Asbury Park?” in the song “At Long Last Love.” Count Basie paid tribute to his hometown with “The Kid from Red Bank” and “Red Bank Boogie”. You probably know the mentions Atlantic City gets, but how about Wildwood? There’s Bobby Rydell’s “Wildwood Days”, and Chubby Checker says “They’re willing in Wildwood” in “Twistin’ USA”. And not forgetting a couple of well-known attractions, there’s Freddy Cannon’s “Palisades Park”, that also gets a mention with Jersey’s Steel Pier in “Amusement Parks “U.S.A.” by the Beach Boys.
We could go on here, but there are some songs worth a quick mention because, despite the titles, they have nothing to do with New Jersey. “Surf City”, “Beachwood 4-5789”, and “West End Girls” (nothing to do with Long Branch). And to leave you with a title from jazz artist Raymond Scott here’s hoping you don’t get any “Bumpy Weather over Newark” if you go on vacation and fly back home this summer.