Some songwriters seek to celebrate New Jersey. Others, though, are more interested in telling it like it is.
Natural beauty meets man-made ugliness in the lyrics of the dark and disturbing “Paterson Falls,” by veteran New York alt-rock band Life in a Blender. “Paterson Falls, through the old chain-link/Throw your garbage over, and watch it sink,” sings frontman Don Rauf in his deep, resonant voice, over a slow, somber beat. He adds that while there is salsa playing in town, “You won’t hear a footstep by Paterson Falls.”
Later, he is joined by his bandmates on a group-vocal portion of the song that turns nightmarish: “A patch of grass is urine-soaked/Where breaking workers come to smoke/Who in their factories inspect/The scarves we tighten ’round our necks.”
Paterson Falls, of course, refers to the Great Falls of Paterson (which really are spectacular, even with the broken beer bottles), and the song came out on the 2002 Life in a Blender album, Tell Me I’m Pretty.
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.