Rocket City

July 31, 2015 9:24 AM

A song about Huntsville, AL, for the City Songs challenge.

Just under the wire here getting this posted, though I wrote the first verse and had the basic idea for the second one a month or so ago, after having been in Huntsville for a few days. It's been sort of sitting and waiting in the interim, and it was time to finally finish it up and get it recorded.

The song isn't really about Huntsville-as-a-whole or anything like that; it's instead very much about first impressions—the road-heavy flatness of the place, the strangeness of trying to travel on foot, the odd tension that comes with having the local hero be an Operation Paperclip type who built V-2 rockets for Hitler and the way that bit doesn't get a whole lot of mention at the space museum.

posted by cortex (4 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite


There a rocket ship
Outside your bedroom window
It splits the sky in half
And the highway cuts the neighborhood in two

When you walk down to the run-down Dollar General
To buy a roll of quarters for the laundry room
That Saturn V keeps
Looming larger over you
Rocket City’s got a way
Of looming over you

We made our moonshot back in 69
Thanks to Wernher von Braun
A German scientist
Who came here after World War II

Everybody in this town knows his name,
He’s the father of the American rocket program
He was also Nazi number
Five seven three eight six nine two
Rocket City’s got a way
Of looming over you

posted by cortex at 9:27 AM on July 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

Saturn V from our apartment at night

Von Braun and me

(For what it's worth, all the mefites and nonmefites we've met in Huntsville are lovely, non-nazi people. And the Saturn V is cool. But the history is a little weird to think about.)
posted by Secretariat at 11:20 AM on August 1, 2015

This works really well. I like the particular focus of it, I think it ends up being a much better city song than if you'd approached it from the angle of completely capturing the essence of the place, if such a thing is even possible.
posted by invitapriore at 11:36 AM on August 1, 2015

Great arrangement and playing. Love the richness coming out of that resonator. Very evocative, plaintive feel. Nice work cortex!
posted by BlackPebble at 11:17 AM on August 4, 2015

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