SONGWRITING MONTH DAY 25: About a Place

Romulus, Michigan

TODAY’S PROMPT: Write a song somehow inspired by a place.

This is inspired by Sufjan Stevens’s notion to try and make an album for every state in the union.  I’m not sure if he got past two, but one of the states he wrote about is Michigan and Michigan is my home state (and his home state. Whoo!);  I love that album because it’s full of songs about a bunch of places I recognize.

What makes his songs compelling, in my view, is that they are really about people. He names a place in the album title and many of the song titles but his albums or songs are really about people living there. Sometimes he directs them to a person living there.

SONG OF THE DAY: Romulus

Romulus is a suburb of Detroit–the city that holds the airport.  Who knows? Maybe it has a pretty downtown somewhere. If so, I haven’t seen it. If so, most people don’t know about it.  From my understanding, it’s pretty much an airport, a field, a bunch of gas stations and car rentals.

I tend to like sad, slow Sufjan over happy quick Sufjan, and when it comes to sad, well, Romulus just nails it.   It captures Romulus as a weary place, its people sorting through debris left by the car industry’s whirlwind tour through Southeast Michigan (and the United States).  I mean, this song would be great even if I knew nothing about Romulus, but because I do, because I’ve been there, it just means so much more. To me, this song IS Southeast Michigan.

Or part of it.  There is another part of Southeast Michigan that he doesn’t capture in this song, a part that might be better captured in a song called “Downtown While There’s a Tigers Game Going On,”  but for when there isn’t a Tigers game going on, this song really captures my impression of the region where I grew up.

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