Top 20 best Minnesota songs: #10-1

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Countless songwriters have found inspiration in the Land of 10,000 Lakes over the years, and even more have hit upon something revelatory about Minnesota without ever becoming full-time residents. Sometimes these songs are backhanded compliments, and some are full-on gushfests set to shove "Hail! Minnesota" to the curb. Here are our picks for the finest of the umpteen tracks that wouldn't be the same without, ya know, us. --Reed Fischer




10. "Christmas Card From A Hooker in Minneapolis" - Tom Waits

Tom Waits certainly has found a few places and characters that have inspired him in Minneapolis, but what city and scene doesn't seem to inspire someone as brilliant and insightful as Waits? Between "9th and Hennepin," and "Christmas Card From a Hooker In Minneapolis," Waits paints a gritty, sordid picture of downtown Minneapolis and the wretched life that comes from making bad decisions in any city. And while he sings about the prostitute living above a dirty bookstore on 9th Street off of Euclid Avenue, there sadly isn't a Euclid Avenue in Minneapolis (though there is an East Euclid Street in St. Paul), which casts a wider scope to the song's setting and significance. But after the hooker leaves here for Omaha, she eventually returns because, "Everyone I used to know was either dead or in prison/So I came back to Minneapolis, this time I think I'm gonna stay." See, this city has a lasting appeal for everyone. --Erik Thompson



9. "They're Not Tryin' on the Dance Floor" - Jonathan Richman

Here, the estimable Modern Lovers frontman Jonathan Richman, a Massachusetts native, takes the Midwest to task for the utter lack of elastic in our steps. How many times have you witnessed a local crowd not only unwilling, but completely unable to fall into step with the most infectious, gargantuan beat? Richman stays away from the most hoppin' communities in the region in this stripped down bit of amusement, but calls out Duluth (as well as Eau Claire and Sheboygan) as spots filled with people who are "just there." The real question: Will this song make you throw your hands in the air and wave 'em like you just don't care? --Reed Fischer



8. "Minneapolis" - Lucinda Williams

Not only did Lucinda Williams cement her deep affinity for Minneapolis by getting married at First Avenue in 2009, but she has also penned quite a few songs that take some inspiration from the area. None ring clearer than "Minneapolis," her wistful, lonesome ode to a lover who left and a harsh winter that she can never grow used to. The song perfectly captures the stark isolation that can set in during our colder months, and when Williams sings the touching lines, "Open up this wound again/ let my blood flow red and thin/ into the glistening, into the whiteness, into the melting snow of Minneapolis" you get the sense that she may eventually get over the pain of losing someone special, but the bitter Minnesota winters are another matter altogether. --Erik Thompson

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