Happy Birthday Arizona: 100 Songs that Define Arizona, Pt. 4

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Editor's Note: An abridged version of this article appears in this week's issue, featuring 100 Songs that Defined Arizona. In celebration of Arizona's centennial, we've rounded up sound clips for (almost) everything featured in our list. Thanks to everyone who submitted song suggestions, all of our guest contributors (John Dixon, Howe Gelb, Kimber Lanning, Sara Cina, and more). Thanks for reading.

"Rejoice despite the fact this world will tear you to shreds/Rejoice because you're trying your best." -- "Rejoice," by Andrew Jackson Jihad

The goal of finding Arizona's 100 greatest songs was hardly easy. We asked our readers to tell us what songs have defined Arizona over the past century. As we combed through e-mail submissions, one thing became clear: Arizona's musical heritage is as diverse, fascinating, and complicated as the people who live here.

In addition to submissions, we dove into New Times archives, consulted historians, musicians, record collectors, scoured blogs, and slipped into YouTube rabbit holes to complete this list, focusing on artists you might've heard any given night in a dusty nightclub or bar.

Read on for entries 76-100, showcasing some of the best music of the last decade. See you in another 100!


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Happy Birthday Arizona: 100 Songs that Define Arizona, Pt. 3

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Editor's Note: An abridged version of this article appears in this week's issue, featuring 100 Songs that Defined Arizona. In celebration of Arizona's centennial, we've rounded up sound clips for (almost) everything featured in our list, and will be rolling them out over the course of the week.

"Everybody knows that the world is full of stupid people, so meet me at the mission at midnight, we'll divvy up there." -- "Banditos" by The Refreshments

The goal of finding Arizona's 100 greatest songs was hardly easy. We asked our readers to tell us what songs have defined Arizona over the past century. As we combed through e-mail submissions, one thing became clear: Arizona's musical heritage is as diverse, fascinating, and complicated as the people who live here.

In addition to submissions, we dove into New Times archives, consulted historians, musicians, record collectors, scoured blogs, and slipped into YouTube rabbit holes to complete this list, focusing on artists you might've heard any given night in a dusty nightclub or bar.

Read on for entries 51-75, marking the changing musical landscape as the sound of Mill Avenue jangle faded and young sounds of rap-rock, hip-hop, and indie rock exploded in Arizona.

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Happy Birthday Arizona: 100 Songs that Define Arizona, Pt. 2

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Editor's Note: An abridged version of this article appears in this week's issue, featuring 100 Songs that Defined Arizona. In celebration of Arizona's centennial, we've rounded up sound clips for (almost) everything featured in our list, and will be rolling them out over the course of the week.

"I just kept thinking how it would feel/to be cruising down Central in my own set of wheels." -- Poor Boy Rappers, "Low Rider Rap"

The goal of finding Arizona's 100 greatest songs was hardly easy. We asked our readers to tell us what songs have defined Arizona over the past century. As we combed through e-mail submissions, one thing became clear: Arizona's musical heritage is as diverse, fascinating, and complicated as the people who live here.

In addition to submissions, we dove into New Times archives, consulted historians, musicians, record collectors, scoured blogs, and slipped into YouTube rabbit holes to complete this list, focusing on artists you might've heard any given night in a dusty nightclub or bar.

Read on for entries 26-50, marking the changing musical landscape as punk, metal, and even hip-hop flourished in Arizona.


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Kimber Lanning on Sleepwalker's "Out of Here" (1998)

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Editor's Note: A version of this article appears in this week's issue, featuring 100 Songs that Defined Arizona. In celebration of Arizona's centennial, we spoke with Kimber Lanning, whose got musician (Half-String, Letdownright), record store owner (Stinkweeds), and retail activist (Local First Arizona) on her resume. She discussed Sleepwalker's 1998 track "Out of Here," her favorite Arizona tune.

"Out of Here," Sleepwalker, Man on the Moon (1998, Hayden's Ferry)

"Drops of rain/Slipping down the window pane/And I'm think it myself again/And I'm singing to myself again/Every day here feels like another year."

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Happy Birthday Arizona: 100 Songs that Define Arizona, Pt. 1

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Editor's Note: An abridged version of this article appears in this week's issue, featuring 100 Songs that Defined Arizona. In celebration of Arizona's centennial, we've rounded up sound clips for (almost) everyone featured in our list, and will be rolling them out over the course of the week.

"Not alone for gold and silver / Is Arizona great / But with graves of heroes sleeping / All the land is consecrate!" -- "Arizona March Song"

The goal of finding Arizona's 100 greatest songs was hardly easy. We asked our readers to tell us what songs have defined Arizona over the past century. As we combed through e-mail submissions, one thing became clear: Arizona's musical heritage is as diverse, fascinating, and complicated as the people who live here.

In addition to submissions, we dove into New Times archives, consulted historians, musicians, record collectors, scoured blogs, and slipped into YouTube rabbit holes to complete this list, focusing on artists you might've heard any given night in a dusty nightclub or bar.

Read on for 1-25 of of our list, marking the Arizona's musical beginnings (when musicians had to make the difficult trek to California or Texas to record) to the glory days of Audio Recorders in Phoenix, which cranked out everything from country to pop to soul.

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Howe Gelb on Rainer's "One Man Crusade" (1994), "The Inner Flame" (1997), and "The Farm" (2002)

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Rainer and Howe Gelb, 1986
Editor's Note: A version of this article appears in this week's issue, featuring 100 Songs that Defined Arizona. In celebration of Arizona's centennial, we spoke songwriter Howe Gelb, who has led the constantly mutating Giant Sand in Tucson and all around the world since 1985. Gelb is known for his singular way of speaking, a kind of melodious, lyrical stop-and-start. We spoke with him while mastering a forthcoming Giant Sand record at SAE Mastering in Phoenix. He couldn't pick just one of his late friend's composition, instead discussing three and asking readers to simple "pick whatever one they want."

Blues guitarist Rainer Ptacek was born in East Berlin and spent his childhood in Chicago but rose to prominence in Tucson. Though he never achieved mainstream success, his work is widely admired, with ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons and Robert Plant both vocal fans and collaborators. He formed Giant Sand with Howe Gelb, who discussed his favorite Rainer songs with us.

"[Rainer] has one called 'One Man Crusade' that is one of the top 10 best songs ever written -- not just in Arizona's history.

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"We Got Cactus," Bloodspasm (1985), Al Perry (2004), The Dusty Buskers (2010)

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Editor's Note: An abridged version of this article appears in this week's issue, featuring 100 Songs that Defined Arizona. In celebration of Arizona's centennial, we spoke with Eric Swedlund, a writer, photographer, editor, and all-around-good-dude in Tucson, Arizona, about "We Got Cactus," sort of an unofficial Tucson anthem, which coincidentally works pretty good for the rest of the state, too.

"Spring without flowers is just as remorseful/As an autumn denied the colored leaves fall/Long is the winter when there's no snow/And summer is painful when the wind won't blow/Welcome to my home, no fear of pneumonia/This is paradise, in Tucson, Arizona.

Bloodspasm tore up a series of now-closed Tucson clubs and house parties starting in the mid-80s with blistering hardcore punk rock.

But the band's lasting mark is surely "We Got Cactus," a song that exemplifies life as a desert rat and a local classic that's endured for nearly three decades, in its original wild and boisterous form as well as new country-rock and folk cover versions.

The song tells the story of Tucson in 1985, with a sarcastic and self-deprecating pride that focuses almost entirely on the seemingly negative aspects of the city. And in comparison to the glamorous attractions of other cities -- surfing, nightlife, lakes, beaches -- all Tucson can claim is cactus.

"In terms of modern Arizona there's not a song that nails it better than that," says Al Perry, a longtime Tucson musician who covered "We Got Cactus" on his 2004 album Always A Pleasure. "It perfectly encapsulates life in Tucson and it works so well on every level. There will never be a more accurate portrait of Tucson. That song is the beginning and the end."

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"Found Out About You," Gin Blossoms, 1989

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Clockwise from top left: Gin Blossoms' 1989 debut Dusted, songwriter/hitmaker Doug Hopkins, the old Long Wong's on Mill, Sara Cina, and the band in 1991.
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Editor's Note: An abridged version of this article appears in this week's issue, featuring 100 Songs that Defined Arizona. In celebration of Arizona's centennial, we spoke with local music icon Sara Cina about one of the earliest songs of renowned Tempe band Gin Blossoms.

"All the lines you wrote to me were lies/The months roll past the love that you struck dead/Did you love me only in my head?"

Having spent close to 15 years booking the old Long Wong's on Mill Avenue, Sara Cina played a huge role in Tempe's vibrant music heyday of the '90s. 

She was as much a part of the venerated Mill Avenue dive -- an epicenter of the jangle-pop era that hosted local heavyweights like The Refreshments, The Beat Angels, and Dead Hot Workshop seven nights a week for more than a decade -- as its graffiti-covered walls or the colorful mural of memorable regular Elvis "The Cat" Del Monte.

As such, her favorite locally produced song from the last century is one of the bigger hits by Long Wong's most favorite sons. Namely, "Found Out About You" by Gin Blossoms.

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"The Fool," Sanford Clark, 1956

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Editor's Note: An abridged version of this article appears in this week's issue, featuring 100 Songs that Defined Arizona. In celebration of Arizona's centennial, John "Johnny D" Dixon, host of Mostly Vinyl with Johnny D on KWSS 106.7 and unofficial Arizona music historian, shares a little history about Sanford Clark's hit, "The Fool."

Gather 'round me buddies,
Hold your glasses high
And drink to a fool, a crazy fool,
Who told his baby goodbye...

In March 1956, KTYL disc jockey, producer, and songwriter Lee Hazlewood was out of money -- to pay for more recording sessions and record-pressings, that is. After more than a year of trying for a hit on his Viv Records imprint, his closets were full of unsold boxes of the half-dozen country 45 and 78 RPM records by local artists that he had financed. It was all about Hazlewood's deep-seated desire to be a songwriter, and so far it all had gone bust.

He had been working on a new song he called "The Fool" with a young friend, guitarist Al Casey of The Sunset Riders. Hazlewood could handle the lyric and melody, but he needed a real musician to fine-tune the music and transcribe it. Casey also suggested his school pal Sanford Clark as the singer Hazlewood sought to deliver his new creation to vinyl.

With no more cash for a recording session, let alone pressing costs, Hazlewood approached the new MCI (Music Counselors Inc.) label that operated from a desk in the front of Ramsey's Recording Studio on 7th Street and Weldon. In return for financing the studio time and paying for the records he would record an MCI published song (Lonesome For A Letter) on the flip. This was not something that he wanted to do, but he just had to get "The Fool" on tape and see what would happen.


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