I first met my former Star-Ledger colleague Tris McCall, who is also a current NJArts.net contributor, through his music. I really liked it, plus, more than virtually any of his rock singer-songwriter contemporaries, he seemed to take it as a personal mission to write songs that were unmistakably rooted in New Jersey. He was a natural subject for an in-depth Star-Ledger profile, and I wrote one in 2006.
I was also aware that Tris, who lives in Jersey City, was a perceptive and prolific music critic — again, with a very Jerseycentric sensibility. And when I left the Star-Ledger’s popular-music critic post in 2010 to become, among other things, the paper’s music editor, I asked him to replace me as the popular-music critic, and he did an amazing job until we both left in 2014.
So, anyway, here’s one of Tris’ best Jersey-set songs: “Sugar Nobody Wants,” from his 2009 album Let the Night Fall. The song’s presumably young narrator contemplates committing some petty crimes at the Staples store at the Newport Centre mall in Jersey City, and other — as McCall sings — “candyass forms of civil disobedience.” It’s a cure for boredom, perhaps, but also, the narrator seems to realize, a dead end. “Power to the people!/Cut me into halves/We’re trash, sugar nobody wants/Up for grabs,” McCall sings.
McCall and the album’s co-producer, Jay Braun, shot footage for the video in Jersey City and Bayonne.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday last 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. We started in September 2014, and will keep going until late in the summer.
If you would like to suggest any songs to be included, please let me know in the comments section underneath the video. And if you want to see the entire list, either alphabetically or in the order the songs were selected, click here.