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Jul 01 2012

Sunday Song: Old Jerome

One of the things I love best about blogging is stumbling across the unexpected. When I was researching for Oceans of Ore: How an Undersea Caldera Eruption Created Jerome, Arizona, I certainly wasn’t in the market for music. But I stumbled upon a reference to a song called “Old Jerome” by Kate Wolf. I’m not much of a folk music fan, but I sought it out on YouTube anyway, and discovered it’s quite beautiful.

Now, you may notice that’s not Kate Wolf singing. I couldn’t find a video for her. But a quick search uncovered the track on MySpace. She’s got the right voice for this old town: lovely, haunting, a little bit desert.

Since 1983, when she wrote this song, restoration has continued apace. A lot of the buildings that stared out with empty eyes are now homes and shops and museums. And this song is its anthem.

I meant to put this up a few weeks ago, but got distracted by other shiny things. Good thing, too, because I hadn’t copied the embed code for the song, so had to search for it again. I must have used a different search string this time, because a Tony Norris song came up called “High Tide in the Desert.” It’s about boats, and Jerome, and sailing the desert. It might sound a bit silly. But remember: this whole area has been a sea several times. It began under an ocean. If those boats wait patiently enough, they’ll get a chance to sail again, several million years from now.

Or, y’know, someone could just tow ‘em down to a lake…

This little ghost town has inspired a lot of music, it turns out. For our final song, we’ll have Barenaked Ladies, “Jerome.”

When I saw this song mentioned on Wikipedia, I was all like, “Whatevs. They probably have no idea what they’re talking about.” But they do! Listening to this song was like being transported there. They know Mingus Mountain! They even know the old jail slid downhill! I have no idea how a Canadian came to know my little Arizona mining town so intimately, but Kevin Hearn got it spot-on. Beautiful!

All of this makes me want to wander those old streets again. Shame about it being in Arizona. But it’s a liberal enclave, so at least my tourist dollars will be supporting the rebels, eh?