Friday, February 06, 2009

Beneath the Rule a Country Hides

So Lettuce had this song in his Random 10 and it got me wondering where exactly 41 North 93 West is (turns out it's in Iowa) which prompted further discussion which got me googling and I wound up finding this post about the song on a very cool map blog. And it turns out the author e-mailed Wire asking about the song, and this is what Graham Lewis had to say:

In 1978 Wire made their debut in the USA playing at CBGBs in NYC for 5 nights. When this engagement was completed I flew to LA to meet my girlfriend of the time and have 2 weeks vacation staying with friends. At the end of this I flew back to New York to hangout.

On the return daytime flight the visibility was perfect and I experienced a stunning aerial view of the Rockies and the vast Mid-Western plains…this was the inspiration for the first part of the text. I studied Geography at both O & A level and developed a fascination for maps and their reading… On this occasion one was able to read the epic landscape…vast gorges, an incomparable 2D flatness, meandering rivers, levees, oxbow lakes etc….with an unrelenting gridded road system imposed on top).

Some months later I had a similar sensation whilst traveling by road through the reclaimed agricultural lands of Holland. Whilst in the US it had been the road system here it was a grid system of drainage dikes. The vast green/ glass houses also made a memorable impression sparkling in the autumn sun….”Crystal palaces for floral kings”

The two pieces of writing dovetailed to produce one text on 2 locations…the title was conceptual… notionally the very centre of the Mid-west…I guessed and found a place called Centreville nearby… this seemed appropriate, poetical yet hardly scientific!
So there you are. It's very rare that a songwriter's explanation of a song makes me like it even more, but this is one of those times.

Update: I hadn't noticed when I posted the video that the map ref is different from that on the album. For the record, 43N 110W is in the foothills of the Wind River Range.