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Song Parodies -> "Kansas"

Original Song Title:


Original Performer:

Barry Manilow

Parody Song Title:


Parody Written by:

Tommy Turtle

The Lyrics

After last week's three riffs on "Oklahoma!", specifically, at "California!", Patrick McWilliams regretted that his home state didn't have enough syllables to scan to "Oklahoma!". Hey, so what? For such a loyal fan, it's the *least* TT could do -- *really*. This one's for you, my friend.

Driving up from F-L-A
Headed Colorado's way
Get on the Interstate
Downtown: through Atlanta
Stopping for the night:
In Chattanooga...

Morning: take I-24
-57, -64
St. Lou', passing through
Arch (that's not MickeyD™) [1]
Missouri, quickly flies
Now, four hundred miles of Kansas [2]

Through Topeka, then --- What the ---? *Manhattan*? [3]
Must have turned the wrong way! ... No, Kansas
Quite nice place, for the night, to hang hat in
Keep driving all day through Kansas

The land rolls to horizon line
Not speeding; doing sixty-nine
From the Mississip': Plains, uphill, climbing [4]
The people there are fine
There's much less of crime in ol' Kansas

Grow our grain; flour gave, for our baking
Corn and soybeans, wind sway, in Kansas
Give us this: daily bread, for the taking
Thus, we're blessed ev'ry day by Kansas

Cattle, hogs, and sheep (Sheep? TT's horny!)
Aircraft factor-ies [5]
Gas, oil are falling, though: Kansas [6]

Fin'lly see, from State Line, Rockies tower
(April: Come back this way, through Kansas)
Over Loveland, or through Eisenhower [7]
I think, Toto, we're way from Kansas.... [8]

[1] For those who've never seen it, there's a link in the outro to a beautiful panoramic view of the cityscape and the monumental arch over it, built to commemorate the fact that St. Louis, right below the juncture of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, was considered the "Gateway to the West" during the westward expansion of the US across the Mississippi. .

(Song doesn't mention it, but no matter which branch of the Interstate Highway you take around or through St. Louis, sooner or later you'll end up on I-70 as you leave it, headed west.)

[2] *Almost* rectangular (like its neighbors to the west), at 417 miles (645 km) x 211 miles (340 km).

[3] The settlement was originally named "Boston" -- that is *not* original, people -- before some newcomers insisted on something equally unoriginal, "Manhattan". For that matter, Manhattan Beach, CA, a beachside suburb of Los Angeles, was named by a homesick New Yorker -- apparently not quite homesick enough to leave the pleasant weather and beach and go back to NYC -- go figure!

[4] Often mistakenly thought of as "flat as a pancake", or "the flattest State" (cough)fl(cough), Kansas is in fact part of the climb of the Great Plains from the drainage of the Mississippi River to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Long, rolling terrain may mask the climb from elevation 684 ft (208 m) near the State's eastern border to 4,039 ft (1,231 m) near the western border with Colorado.

[5] An early home to aviation pioneering, due to the wide-open spaces, back before planes used runways. In June 1911, Clyde Cessna, a farmer in Rago, Kansas, built a wood-and-fabric plane and became the first person to build and fly an aircraft between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. Current factories include Boeing, Cessna, and Learjet.

[6] Currently ranked 8th in the US in both oil and natural gas production, though both have been declining over the past two decades, as most of the "easy pickin's" have already been taken -- causing drillers to go elsewhere, like, say, a mile under the Gulf of Mexico....

(In the course of this research, learned that the state is using coal deposits to produce more *methane*. As usual, TT is way ahead of the crowd [shrugs shell shoulders] - what can he say?)

[7] We're still on Interstate 70, westbound, past Denver, Colorado, and climbing up the Rockies. Only two ways to cross the Continental Divide. (Does anyone know why it's called the "Continental Divide", and what, *exactly*, it divides? No fair looking it up.)

For many years, the only way was a long, switchback climb up a steep, winding, two-lane road over Loveland Pass, elevation 11,990 ft (3,650 m). (A pic taken from the crest by a companion, showing the monument, the elevation sign, and the breathtaking views, is on the wall of TT's reef.) It's the highest mountain pass in the *world* that regularly stays open during a snowy winter season.

The Eisenhower Tunnel through the Rockies opened as a two-lane tunnel in 1973, expanded to four lanes (a second bore, so that there's one two-lane tunnel in each direction) in 1979. The highest vehicular tunnel in the US, it cuts about 800 vertical feet (244 m) and 20-30 minutes off the drive time versus the Pass. To mitigate the dangers posed by a fire inside the tunnel, trucks hauling hazardous materials, including gasoline, are prohibited from using the tunnel, and must take the above route over the mountains.

If the Pass becomes temporarily closed during a blizzard, hazmat trucks line up and wait. (The troopers give them coffee in the meantime..) Once each hour, all traffic is emptied from the tunnels, and the hazmat trucks will be guided through in a convoy (Big Ben, this here's the Rubber Duck, 10-4) accompanied by state troopers.

Why are we still talking about Colorado? To give a strong finish to the Kansas tribute, of course...

[8] A double homage to Dorothy and Oz. (ready?)

The weather on the western side of said Continental Divide can be dramatically different from that on the eastern side, where the Rockies might block storms coming down from western Canada - even though the Eisenhower Tunnel is only about 1.7 mi (2.7km) long.

On one trip: (true story) Approaching from the East, signs warning truckers to stop and "chain up" (put on tire chains), with cops to enforce that, despite only very light snowflakes falling on the rocky crags. Upon exiting the tunnel on the West side, heavy snow and a "winter wonderland", "picture postcard" scene of a blanket of white covering *everything* -- including the road.***

TT', typically talking to himself (it's a long drive): "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto."

St. Louis' Gateway Arch pic here..

*** Anyone who can't take off a pullover sweater while driving a standard, rear-wheel drive passenger sedan with standard, "all-weather" tires (yeah, right) down a steep mountain grade covered in snow, slush, and ice, probably shouldn't be driving there at all, at least at that time of year.
(TT eventually wised up and bought a second set of tires. Probably the only resident of a zero-snowfall area with a set of perfectly-good, metal-studded snow tires in the garage. Anyone wanna buy them?)

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Pacing: 5.0
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Total Votes: 5

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Old Man Ribber - September 07, 2010 - Report this comment
This is even better than Rand McNally! ;D
Patrick - September 07, 2010 - Report this comment
Good tour of a state whose motto is "Not as Flat as You Thought". I figured you's find a way to work Kansas into a song. When I visit the Mahaffie Farmstead in Olathe (last remaining stagecoach stop on the Santa Fe Trail), I'll give your best wishes to the sheep.
Patrick - September 07, 2010 - Report this comment
First attempt to leave a comment wouldn't take. Outside of KCK, Topeka, and Wichita, not much crime. When it does happen, it gets nationwide attention ("In Cold Blood", the murder of Dr Tiller, almost anything Fred Phelps does). Main street in KCK is "Minnesota" Avenue, no one knows why. Main street in Lawrence is "Massachusetts", which at least makes sense, as the first settlers were from there. The first modern settlers in KCK were the Wyandottes, a mixed race tribe from Ohio. They gave there name to the county, a few streets are named for prominent leaders. And they held some 1854 land claims over the city until they were finally allowed to keep the casino they had already opened. I always thought of Colorado as John Denver or C.W. McCall country, but you have done a good job with that State, too.
TJC - September 07, 2010 - Report this comment
One word to describe your mood-invoking and well researched (Duh!) n' harmonious Ewenion of the State: Flatmospheric!
Patrick - September 07, 2010 - Report this comment
I once got through a winter in South Bend, Indiana in a 1972 Chevrolet Caprice, using studded snow tires. I think they are now banned in most places. Except for the Police, of course. The old 1986 Chrysler could use them when the ice gets bad in KC. Remember, this is hill country, not a level piece of ground anywhere.
Fiddlegirl - September 07, 2010 - Report this comment
My mom's side of the family hails from the Midwest, so 3 cheers for the Heartland! And 3 5's for you. :)
AFW - September 07, 2010 - Report this comment
Very geograpic...and my old backyard...since I hail from the Kansas neighbor, Nebraska...
Tommy Turtle - September 07, 2010 - Report this comment
Old Man Ribber: Always been a big fan of Ayn Rand; never read any of McNally. For that matter, never knew that she'd collaborated with anyone other than Nathaniel Branden.... Thanks for v/c! :-D

Patrick #1 and #2: C'mon, ewe know TT can work *anything* into a song, LOL! Thanks for the sheep regards! .... I generally avoided stopping in large cities, not just for crime, but also because of the traffic getting on/off the Interstate, going to restaurants, price, etc. Stayed one night, I think, off the Hays exit. Very fine, Heartland-type people - song wasn't kidding. Truman Capote wouldn't bother writing about murders in NYC, Chicago, etc. -- not newsworthy.   I saw that there were also "Exoduster" communities of recently-emancipated slaves fleeing the deep South to what they perceived as a more tolerant atmosphere.
  Barely started on Colorado -- just the climb up and through/over the mountains, and Silverthorne on the other side, but "Colorado" *does* scan to "Oklahoma!" ... forewarned is forearmed, heh heh. Got some lines written, but it's on the back burner for now -- you'll see why pretty soon. Thanks for inspiring some interesting research and a fun write, and for the v/c.

TJC: See Patrick's comment: Not as flatmospheric as ewe thought! :-D   Thanks for descriptive and evocative v/c.

Patrick #3: "Hill Country" -- as opposed to, say, ski resort country, with some *very* steep grades, winding roads (no guardrails), and much heavier snowfall (due to elevation and topographical airmass lifting)? Had a 1985 Mercury Grand Marquis (de Sade, of course), and the studded tires weren't banned as late as early in the 2000s, at least in ski country. Perhaps it was on a county-by-county basis.
  Having gotten stuck once or twice, and punctured fingertips numerous times putting on tire *cables* with sharp cable ends (feels *so* much better when your hands are already freezing!), the studded tires were a why-didn't-I-do-this-long-ago thing. The road-maintenance people just take it for granted, and you wear the tires out very quickly on dry pavement, anyway. Of course, anyone with any brains (excludes turtles) gets a 4WD SUV with gigondo-cleated tires before they decide to live at 9,000' and drive up to 10,000' every day of the winter -- but couldn't afford it, and the smaller ones wouldn't have held everything. Lousy gas mileage, too....

Fiddlegirl: As said to Patricks #1 and 2, Heartland folk are fine indeed, no joking here. (I guess your Dad's side of the family explains -- n/m, kidding! KIDDING! xoxoxo muah!)

AFW: Been through there, too, when the destination was Utah vs. CO. I-80 over Cheyenne Pass, etc. ... Stopped in a town in Nebraska once; I *think* it was Ogallala. In my experience, almost *everyone* in the exurban Midwest, Great Plains, Heartland, and Intermountain regions is nice -- Texas and the Deep South, too. Now, if we could only get rid of the Northeast, from, say, Washington, D. C. northward ... (j/k, all you northeast residents! C'mon, Scotti, you know I wrote about Liberty, etc., and enjoyed the visits! :-D)
No OneNoTTiced? - September 07, 2010 - Report this comment
Went to the trouble to do homage to "The Lord's Prayer" -- did anyone pick up on it? Inquiring pea-brains want to know....
Patrick - September 08, 2010 - Report this comment
Exodusters. Town of Nicodemus was settled by former slaves. Saw a documentary. Not much left there today, but once a year, former residents gather to remember. My great grandfather, a former Confederate soldier from Mississippi came to St Mary's after the war, probably for much the same reason the former slaves did.

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