Do you ever need to just check out for a little bit from everything lousy that’s happening? That’s where I’m at this week. Between the closure of Port City Music Hall and the bitter sting of daily fretting about the pandemic, my head and heart need a few moments of levity. Maybe yours do too?

Sorrow and smiles are not mutually exclusive and this week’s hopefully smile-inducing column is in the form of a collection of songs that mention Maine in the lyrics, and boy, did I have fun gathering them up. The purpose of this is one of pure joy, coupled with an appreciation from this former Massachusetts gal for my adopted home state. There’s a few on the list from local artists like Spose and The Ghost of Paul Revere  and others from the likes of J. Geils Band, Jackson Browne and Doris Day.

Heck, I even made a Spotify playlist so you can listen right along if you’d like. Greetings from Maine has 21 songs on it, and I’ll highlight a few of my favorites with a spotlight on their Maine references.

Let’s start with a real doozie. “King of The Road” is a country classic from Roger Miller. He penned and recorded it in 1964, and it always makes me want to ditch my life and hit the road with a vintage camper in tow. I can’t listen to it without grinning while snapping and singing along.

The Maine line: “Third boxcar, midnight train/Destination Bangor, Maine.”

“Happy Home” lyrics by Paula Cole from the “Harbinger” album CD booklet photo by Aimsel Ponti

Next up is “Happy Home” from Paula Cole’s debut 1994 “Harbinger.” I remember hearing her perform this one at the State Theatre back when she opened for Sarah McLachlan. The track is an emotional roller coaster ride about finding ones place in the world, and it has a big, gorgeous refrain that mentions the Pine Tree State.

The Maine line: “He hitchhiked to Maine/We went cross-country/I had to leave my home/I had to raise a family.”

Jackson Browne released his “Running on Empty” album at the end of December in 1977. The best known track is the title one, but the record is also home to a tune called “Nothing But Time.” The song was recorded on a tour bus while on the way from Maine to New Jersey, which is why you can hear the engine running in the background. Right out of the gate, “Nothing But Time” gives a nod to us.

The Maine line: “Rolling down on 295 out of Portland, Maine/Still high from the people up there and feeling no pain.”

In 2010, Maine artist Zach Jones, who now lives in Los Angeles, released the album “Fading Flowers,” which is where you’ll find the track “Back Home.” Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Jones, but it’s the cover version of the song that I love even more than the original. Portland’s big band The Fogcutters released “Flotsam” in 2016 and their rendition of the tune has Megan Jo Wilson belting out Jones’ words with a wave of horns and drums behind her.

The Maine line: “Nothing will have changed, Portland always stays the same/But there’s nothing as beautiful as the summer in Maine and the people I miss back home.”

In 2014, country superstar Tim McGraw released the album “Sundown Heaven Town” which caught our attention with the track “Portland, Maine,” which was co-written by Canadian singer-songwriter Donovan Woods and Nashville’s Abe Stoklasa. Two years later, Woods put out “Hard Settle, Ain’t Troubled,” which includes his take on the tune. Holy bananas, it’s a stirring, poignant, bittersweet acoustic ballad that swept me off my feet when I first heard it a few years back and still does.

The Maine line: “Portland, Maine, I don’t know where that is/Leave your bags in the car, keep it running/I won’t pretend that I won’t miss this/But Portland, Maine, I don’t know where that is.

A Doris Day album is always a wonderful thing to listen to. Defotoberg/Shutterstock.com

I’ll wrap things up on a fabulous, Doris Day note. The song is called “That Jane From Maine.” In 1959, Day was in a movie called “It Happened to Jane,” which is set in Maine (though it wasn’t filmed here). But, according to info on Wikipedia about the film, the song is not in the movie. So I did a little digging, and it seems that “That Jane From Maine” isn’t on an original Day album but rather found its way on a subsequent digital re-release. However, if there’s a Day scholar out there who wants to chime in, please do. Either way, it’s a peppy two and a half minute number with crashing symbols, xylophone, vibrant strings, delightful backing vocals and locomotive sounds. Oh, and I’m pretty sure Jane from Maine might indeed be a train.

The Maine line: “All along the railway track/From L.A. to Hackensack and back/Every single heart beats clickety-clack/That Jane from Maine.”


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