“The traffic heads for the Lincoln Tunnel/ Sometimes I think this town’s just one big funnel,” sings Jim Testa in “(Everything Is Swell) in Weehawken.” Indeed, that’s the way those who know the Hudson County city only as the place you pass through on the way to New York must think of it. But Testa, who lives in Weehawken, knows better, and actually spends the course of the song singing about the town’s charms, or lack thereof, in great detail: the winos, the brightly colored flowers on lawns of people living lives in black and white, the pusher handing out free samples at the playground.
“A privileged few/Enjoy the view/From condos perched high above the town/While all of the young greasers/Drink Buds and eat pizzas/Get in their Chevrolets and drive around,” Testa sings.
(The song’s title is obviously meant ironically, though this isn’t a totally unaffectionate portrait of the place.)
Testa is best known as a music journalist; he founded the long-running Jersey Beat fanzine (jerseybeat.com) and has been writing for the Jersey Journal for many years. (He has also written some articles for NJArts.net.) But he is also a singer-songwriter, and this song is from his 2004 album, There Goes the Neighborhood.
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.
The NJ music scene of the last 30+ years owes a lot to Jim, who is also a good Rutgers man. Glad you chose it!