The great Minnesota road trip mix
|Artwork by Chris Strouth|
Makes No Sense At All captures the visions, ramblings, and memories of Chris Strouth, a Twin Cities-bred master of music, film, and everything else.
It's summer. If you're anything like me, you're becoming obsessed with the great outdoors, barbecuing, watching baseball, complaining about baseball, and the true Minnesotan sport: road-tripping.
There are so many amazing destinations in the state and nearby that are worth visiting -- whether it's the musty glory that is (possibly) the world's biggest ball of twine, the giant Paul Bunyan, numerous Babe the Blue Oxes, or even an outdoor music festival somewhere, the destination isn't as important as the soundtrack. To that end, oh dear and gentle reader, I provide you with the most kick-ass Minnesota classic mix tape ever. Well, at least this week.
"Action Woman" - The Litter
The Litter was a one of the more important MPLS groups of the late '60s.
They didn't have a massive following nationally, but their garage rock
sound became a template for the '70s punk vibe. "Action Woman" was their
seminal hit that was covered numerous times in the decades since.
"Surfin' Bird" - The Trashmen
This is sort of the first definitive MN hit -- number four on the Hot 100 when it
was released -- and a staple of the soundtrack circuit. Its power can't be
denied. While the group is Minnesotan, the song itself is untimely a mash-up of two pieces by the Rivingtons with additional bits by the Trashmen. It's annoying as all ell, yet you know that you'll be singing along with it.
"Liar, Liar" - The Castaways
You probably know this song mostly from its Another Nuggets mainstay. This track is also well-known from its inclusion in the Good Morning Vietnam soundtrack, and as being a staple of oldies radio. The falsetto vocal calls to mind Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, but unlike Mr. Valli's warbling, you don't want to punch anyone after hearing this.
"Mule Skinner Blues" - The Fendermen
This is a country tune written by Jimmie Rodgers, but arguably the definitive version and million-seller was by our very own the Fendermen. This recording is a staple of early rockabilly, plus it's likely to be the only song about mule-skinning that you will ever need.
"Six Days on the Road" - Dave Dudley
This is another track not written by a Minnesotan, but one did the definitive versio. It was this version that spawned a truck-driving song milieu. The LP hit number 16 on the country charts. He's technically born in Wisconsin but was very active in MN and lived here when the song was released -- so take that [bronx cheer].
"Ted Mack Rag" - Koerner, Ray & Glover
This is a group that didn't see tremendous chart action. Given that they are a folk group is not all that shocking. They were a massive influence on the folkies -- not to mention being a major influence on Bob Dylan.
"Toolmaster of Brainerd" - Trip Shakespeare
Possibly the most popular song ever written about Brainerd, it insanely links dairyland folklore with the enduring rock myth of guitar-hero supremacy:" Hailing from "Brainerd,
where the children go to milking school," the Toolmaster learned to play the Gibson that his dog had found and he came to haunt the bars of Minneapolis. In days gone by this very publication said that this song "perfectly captured the tension between Minneapolis ambition and out state resignation that pretty much informs life in the Land of 10,000 Lakes."