In 1990, an album called “Jersey Boy” could be found in the Country Top 40 – thanks to East Orange native Eddie Rabbitt, who penned and recorded the sweetly nostalgic title track.
In the song, he sings about his parents coming to New Jersey from Ireland, his first love and the Yankees greats of his childhood; and namedrops places such as the Pulaski Skyway, Lake Hopatcong, the George Washington Bridge, Newark’s Hurricane Bar and Verona’s Claremont Diner. He also sings about making his way to Nashville after “telling a bartender named Stewart/I don’t think I’ll be ever be discovered singing country music here in Newark.”
Rabbitt — who died of lung cancer in 1998, at the age of 56 — first made his mark in the music industry as a songwriter in the early ’70s, penning songs such as “Kentucky Rain” and “Pure Love” (hits for Elvis Presley and Ronnie Milsap, respectively). By the end of the decade, he had established himself as a hit-making recording artist in his own right, and was a mainstay on the country charts (and an occasional crossover presence on the pop charts) into the early 1990s. Some of his best known songs include “I Love a Rainy Night,” “Drivin’ My Life Away,” “Step by Step,” “Every Which Way But Loose” and “Suspicions.”
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.