Yesterday’s New Jersey Songs post was about Dave Van Ronk’s “Garden State Stomp” — a weird little song that simply strings together some of the more unusual city and place names in New Jersey — and “Garden State Stomp” segues naturally into “Strange Names (New Jersey’s Got ’em),” by Steve Forbert.
“I’ve seen Parsippany, northwest of Whippany, Mahwah to Hackensack, I’ve made the trip and back … Hoboken’s got me stressed, I’m going to motor west/Out Succasunna way, Netcong or Rockaway,” sings Forbert on this track from his 2007 album, “Strange Names & New Sensations.”
Forbert — best name for his 1980 hit “Romeo’s Tune” — doesn’t growl for comic effect, the way that Van Ronk does. “Strange Names” is really a kind of gentle, bemused road song, a less frantic cousin to the 1962 Hank Snow hit “I’ve Been Everywhere” (famously covered by Johnny Cash a few years later). “Strange names, north New Jersey’s got ’em/Them strange names towns,” Forbert observed, rather matter-of-factly, in the chorus.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.