The last leg

We left our friends in Minnesota and the realization that the journey of a lifetime is coming to an end. We were charting a course straight south through the Great Plains, hoping to hit the remaining four states of our goal to stay in 49 states. Although we stayed in Iowa once before, we had business to conduct in Clear Lake. 

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Playlist: Kansas

Kansas is big and broad and flat like an area rug with all the smell of cattle. Like any state we’ve visited, you have to know where to look to keep yourself entertained. But the distance between those locales need some road music. Here’s three songs for the Sunflower State. And, no, I am not including anything by the band Kansas.

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The Badlands of Nebraska, North and South Dakota

We thundered our way through three states, making haste to meet our friends at Happy Productions in Minnesota. A set of bad valve cover seals had me spraying an oil slick out from behind the bus and the highways through North Dakota are long. Like really long. But each of these three states—Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota—had their own brand of Badlands. 

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Playlist: South Dakota

Man, oh man, South Dakota has some songs written about it. Unfortunately, none of them are anything to write home about. The Mount Rushmore State (that is, actually for real, the state’s official moniker). Anyways, here’s a list of South Dakota-related songs:

Deadwood Mountain: Yes, John Rich is bigoted trash. Not sure about Big. And, yeah, their cowboy/gospel/rap/rock infusion was long in the tooth by the fifth track of their smash album, Horse of a Different Color, but this song mentions Deadwood and at one point in my shameful youth (long before Rich decided he needed to run commentary on Colin Kapernick) I used to really rock out to this. Also, they apparently don’t know much about Western history with the hamfisted lines that refer to Wild Bill and Calamity Jane as kin, when in reality, Bill didn’t have much use for Jane and she was buried next to him as a jape. Anyway, here is a song. 

Badlands: I don’t like Bruce Springsteen. I don’t know why, but he usually just grates on my nerves. Thunder Road is a good tune, I suppose. But all of the Born in the USA stuff is just… ugh. One note. Uninspired. Anyway, here’s a song about South Dakota from the guy who stole Conan O’Brien’s drummer away. 

Big Foot: I guess this South Dakota list is going to be populated by the not-so-great. Johnny Cash is a powerhouse and I love 95% of his work. This is not part of that 95%. Maybe it’s the spoke word aspect of it (which works in Boy Named Sue, but sounds flat and corny in a song such as this). Anyway, here’s a song where Johnny Cash talks about South Dakota history. 

Ballad of Hollis Brown: If you were hoping I would find a Dylan song to save the day, think again. This lesser-known (but often played) Dylan song is about a poor farmer whose family is starving to death and they all die. Anyway…