Fountains of Wayne specializes in slightly sardonic songs about modern suburban life, so it’s a bit strange to hear singer Chris Collingwood waxing poetic about New Jersey’s Passaic River, as he does on the “Song of the Passaic.” “And in the rise/The light and glow/Of grand old rivers in their flow/From distant hills through dales and lea/The fair Passaic seeks the sea,” he sings, over a stately, gently rolling musical flow. That’s a long way from “Stacy’s Mom.”
But he didn’t write the lyrics; John Alleyne Macnab did, back in the 19th century. Fountains of Wayne just put them to music, for an NPR feature on the Passaic, then included the song, as an iTunes bonus track, on its 2011 album, Sky Full of Holes.
Though named after the former Route 46 store that sold lawn ornaments, Fountains of Wayne is only partially from New Jersey; bassist and songwriter Adam Schlesinger spent some of his youth in Montclair. The band came together in New York, and they got the idea to name themselves after the store after passing it, repeatedly, on trips to Pennsylvania.
And in case you were wondering: Yes, the Passaic River does flow through Wayne.
New Jersey is celebrating its 350th birthday this year. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we are marking the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, for almost a year — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both.
If you would like to suggest any songs to be included, please let me know in the comments section underneath the video.