Saturday, November 04, 2006



I like to listen to a radio station (remember those?) that plays "music from the '80s, '90s, and today," as the announcers keep reminding me. I've heard Prince's Raspberry Beret a few times - must be a favorite of the station. Prince is the kind of guy that, when you look at him, you might assume such a hip, well-appointed dude would come from a place like Los Angeles, or London, or New York , or Paris. Not Minnesota. Anywhere but Minnesota. It's hard to be a fashion plate here when four-six months of the year you have to stuff yourself into snowpants, boots, poufy down jacket, hat, mittens and scarf. This is not to say that Minnesotans aren't hip. We are, but our hipness is understated and earthy - the barest tip of the seed cap, the casual nose-wipe with the cloth hanky.

The great thing about Prince is that he has never denied his Minnesota roots. If you're listening carefully to Raspberry Beret, those roots are evident in one line: "We went riding down by old man Johnson's farm." Farms are not typically associated with L.A., London, N.Y. or Paris, so that's a giveaway, but it's really the "Johnson" that makes this a Minnesota song. You see, Johnson is to Minnesota what Li is to China, or Smith is to old-fashioned hotel registers. You'll not get more Minnesotan than Johnson, unless perhaps you use the name Nelson. I wonder who could possibly have that last name?

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