Monday, February 14, 2011

Michigan, be our Valentine?

On this day of celebrating all things love, we would like to take a moment to profess our most unwavering and unlikely devotion of all: the love we have for this glorious state. Sure, Michigan has a 12.9 percent unemployment rate; sure, the people here say things like "pellow" and "melk"; sure, there's no political will for public transportation connecting the eastern cities, and the state's largest city is being turned into a farm, and we'll probably be among the thousands of young, educated people Michigan hemorrhages every year.

But is there any love stronger or purer--and therefore more worthy of celebration--than the love you have for something that just won't love you back?

Ask any teenager: absolutely not.

And, despite all your faults (there are many), despite the fact that you hate us and want us to go away forever (this is one of them), we stand on your front lawn, Michigan, we hold our boom boxes high above our heads, and we play these love songs for you.


Allow me to kick off this lovefest with a little ditty I first heard when I was in college in, of course, Kalamazoo. My friend Aaron, with whom I used to spend every waking hour, sang it to me once when we were sitting around in his dorm room. And then again in front of people in the cafeteria. And then again in the hallway, and then again at the bar, and then again at his going-away party when he moved to San Francisco, and then again...

(Song starts at 0:16.)

Ben (Houston)

Here's mine - not as explicitly Michigan-related, but still a significant connection. Think about it.

Ben Connor Barrie

We've all had friends that have moved away from Michigan. In Allan, Charlie Slick asks his best friend to move back to Michigan from Chicago.


As usual, I just can't decide. So let me start off with the song I'm most proud of, both because of the people behind it and because of how tasteful it makes me look. I first heard this song back in college as well. It was my 22nd birthday. My friend Aubrey Parker had planned a forum around the topic of bottled water and its effects on the environment. She managed to scrounge up some Kalamazoo College favorite artists, as only Aubrey could, and got them to play a few songs for us in the chapel. Daisy May came out and smacked us all with this ballad as if we were all privileged kids from a diversity-challenged school... anyway. Here it is:

After the concert, Aubrey lured me out to Bell's Brewery with the promise that we would be kicking back with Miss May herself, along with her now-fiancé Seth Bernard. They never showed, our friend Zachary Workman came instead and we all managed to drink enough porter to forget that she was supposed to come anyway.

Now for a little shame. I friggin' love northern Michigan, so leave me alone.

Dear God, that was a lot of boob. To be clear: It's the song alone that I think is representative of northern Michigan. The video, not so much. Except for the Confederate flag bathing suit.

And now, I give you the song that I didn't sing as loudly until I moved to a place where a bunch of people from the suburbs of Detroit lived. You guys aren't really from there, but neither am I.


A. W. Warner

Two songs about love from one underrated, but not under-loved, Michigan emcee -- Pontiac native and Ann Arbor legend Nahshid Sulaiman aka onemanarmy aka One Be Lo.

Sulaiman is one half of the (recently reunited) rap duo Binary Star (The other half Senim Silla). He also released a couple of solo efforts following his split with Silla. I have long held that the cadence of Sulaiman's delivery is rivaled by only the very best in hip-hop. Combined with both the rare ability to tell a compelling story and the deceptively forceful beats of Decompoze, Sulaiman's tracks are something to take note of.

All of this is on stage in Sulaiman's 'Glen Close' [Masters of the Universe, 2000] and 'True Love' [S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M, 2005]. Produced 5 years apart the tracks represent meditations on the celebrated and notorious experiences of love.

Glen Close

True Love

Happy Valentine's Day, Michigan.


  1. You need to include this simply for the line "double chins and bowling pins":

    for Kzoo:

    for Saginaw:

  2. Sufjan Stevens has an entire album dedicated to the love of the mitten. This is one of my favorites:

    And a song for the bridge:

  3. Was wondering if GLMS would make it in here.

    Gotta say, though, my pick there would be "Isabella County, 1992", for those who can't understand why you love this place: When friends come to town, they say, 'what were you thinking - come home!' and I tell them I am home ... Sweetheart, this city has beautiful, beautiful snow!

  4. My problem with the Journey song is that there is no such thing as "South Detroit". South of Detroit is Windsor...see my blog post about it (and also for a great recipe for May Wine Jelly):