Today is Maryland Day, a celebration of the day back in 1634 that settlers first stepped foot onto what would become Maryland soil. Several country singers have paid tribute to various aspects of the state over the years; here are five of my favorite songs about the city of Baltimore.
This one’s an instrumental composed by Ronnie McCoury; it pays tribute to Jon Glik, a Baltimore-area fiddler who has been a member of Del McCoury’s Dixie Pals and performed with artists like Peter Rowan, David Grisman, and more.
This is one creepy song as Miller proclaims the following about a showgirl: “I’ve made my crumbled mind up that I’ll never ever let her go.” Waylon Jennings recorded a fine, equally stalker-ish version, too.
This song from Joshua Judges Ruth probably won’t be picked up by the Baltimore Tourism Bureau any time soon, considering the lyrics have a dying mother warning her son “If you go to Baltimore/Then I’ll see you in heaven/And as you breathe, I’ll breathe no more/And I will surely die.” And you thought your mom was the master of the guilt trip.
The Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 destroyed much of the city’s commercial district, and required over 1200 firefighters to put out the flames; Poole recorded this song about the incident 25 years later.
I like Parsons’ and Bobby Bare’s versions of this Tompall Glaser/Harlan Howard song equally, but if you don’t like either of those recordings, numerous other artists have recorded their own versions as well, and with good reason: it’s got killer lyrics. Turns out love doesn’t always win out over glitz. (Well, the Inner Harbor is awfully nice…)
Juli Thanki is the editor of Engine 145 and a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, Bluegrass Unlimited, and M Music & Musicians Magazine. In 2011 she received the International Bluegrass Music Association Print Media Person of the Year award.