First things first: There’s no such thing as “Diamond Church Street,” at least not in New Brunswick, where The Gaslight Anthem’s “The Diamond Church Street Choir” is set. The Diamond is a reference to Andy Diamond, a promoter who hired The Gaslight Anthem to play in the city’s venerable Court Tavern rock club, which is on Church Street. And the rest, as they say, is history.
The Gaslight Anthem, which came together almost a decade ago in New Brunswick, now has an international following. And “The Diamond Church Street Choir” — whose sound recalls the light bounce of Van Morrison’s “Domino,” from his 1970 album His Band and the Street Choir — is a tribute to where it all started, with its mention of “the Hub City girls in their ribbons and their curls,” and frontman Brian Fallon’s declaration that “They’ll find me beat down out in the universe/Though I’ll never forget where I’m from/I might have moved away from home and slept out there on my own/A million miles away in the storm/But the beat never leaves and the tempo’s a relief/To my aching bones, rambling all over.”
The song is from the band’s third album, 2010’s American Slang, recorded — significantly — at a time when the band was rapidly expanding its following, and therefore feeling the need to reassert the importance of its roots.
“Our connection to New Brunswick is something that will never go away,” bassist Alex Levine told The Star-Ledger in 2010. “It’s where we’ve practiced, it’s where we wrote our first record. That’s our origin, and ‘Diamond’ probably means more to me than any other song we’ve done.”
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.