Tuesday, April 14, 2009

SING THE STATES #12: North Carolina

North Carolina's the 12th state on our list, as it joined the Union on November 21st, 1789 (that'll be 210 years this November if you don't subtract the couple years they, you know, seceded). North Carolina's capital is Raleigh, and in addition to being this year's NCAA champions, the University of North Carolina on Chapel Hill is the oldest State University in the country. Here's some fun facts: did you know that NC is the nation's largest producer of sweet potatoes? Well it is. Also, Babe Ruth hit his first home run in Fayetteville, NC on March 7th, 1914. Finally, according to 50states.com's trivia page, "Winston-Salem was created when the two towns Winston and Salem combined." Wow. I know. Fascinating.

There's a pretty wide array of musicians from North Carolina, with notable scenes ranging from folk and bluegrass to punk and metal. John Coltrane lived in High Point, NC until he was 16, and James Taylor grew up in Carrboro, NC. Ben Folds also grew up in the state, going to high school in Winston-Salem (formerly Winston and Salem, don't forget), and formed his band Ben Folds Five at Chapel Hill.

Providing our song for North Carolina is another musician with strong ties to the state. Ryan Adams grew up in Jacksonville, NC, where he started his seminal alt-country band Whiskeytown. After Whiskeytown's demise, Adams produced his first (and arguably his best) solo album, Heartbreaker, which still drew heavily on his country influences. This song is one of my all-time favorites off that record, and features Emmylou Harris on back-up vocals. Nine albums later, the ridiculously prolific songwriter has recently sworn off music, married Mandy Moore, and started a death metal project called Werewolph. Featuring song titles like 'Evil Weekend', 'Dead People Unite', and 'Mega Wizards', you can check out how much he's actually sworn off music HERE.

Also considered: James Taylor - Carolina On My Mind; Mike Seeger - Way Down In North Carolina; Ryan Adams - Carolina Rain

Ryan Adams - Oh My Sweet Carolina
from the album Heartbreaker (Amazon)

Check out the rest of our SING THE STATES posts!

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