Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Songs of Suburban Sprawl and Urban Renewal

For a couple of years now I’ve kept in my head a short list of songs that deal with one of the common experiences of Post World War II urban and suburban life – the demoralizing changes that bad development has on our experience of where we live, where we call home.
Baltimore is one, and from a more ironic point of view, so is (Nothing but) Flowers.
The starkest that I know of is My City Was Gone

“I went back to Ohio
But my city was gone
There was no train station
There was no downtown
South Howard had disappeared
All my favorite places
My city had been pulled down
Reduced to parking spaces

I heard – for the first time in maybe 20 years – the Kinks’ Muswell Hillbilly on the radio this morning and added it to the list:

“They're putting us in identical little boxes,
No character just uniformity,
They're trying to build a computerised community,
But they'll never make a zombie out of me.

“They'll try and make me study elocution,
Because they say my accent isn't right,
They can clear the slums as part of their solution,
But they're never gonna kill my cockney pride.”


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