‘Hackensack,’ Katy Perry


The cover of Katy Perry’s “MTV Unplugged” album.

In 2009, an unlikely candidate for MTV’s “Unplugged” series, Katy Perry, appeared on it, and performed an unlikely song among reworked versions of her hits: “Hackensack,” an understated ballad from Fountains of Wayne’s 2003 album, Welcome Interstate Managers.

In the song, the singer remembers being infatuated with someone back in school (“I used to know you when we were young/You were in all my dreams/We sat together in period one/Fridays at 8:15″). Now that person is a celebrity, but the singer, who is stuck back home in a dead-end job (“I used to work in a record store/Now I work for my dad/Scraping the paint off of the hardwood floors/The hours are pretty bad”), vows “I will wait for you/As long as I need to/And if you ever get back to Hackensack/I’ll be here for you.”

It’s kind of sweet, but also a bit pathetic, given that the singer doesn’t seem to have known the other person all that well in the first place.

Perry, backed by a band plus a small string section, turns in a solid, straightforward performance. In addition to performing the song on the special, she included it on her 2009 album, MTV Unplugged.

New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday from Sept. 2014 to Sept. 2015. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked 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. The complete list is here.


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