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The United States Of Music

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Monica Fuentes

Rocks Off's sister blog Hair Balls did it with murderers and serial killers. Food blog Eating Our Words, riled the beer snobs with one about the best beers from each state in the union, and a teetotaling follow-up chronicling the best soda pops.

For the past few weeks, Rocks Off has been compiling our own map of rock for the 50 states. It surely wasn't easy, we have to tell you, with some states having so many legendary acts that it was hard to decide where they would fit.

Some people like James Brown were born in one state, but soon moved to another where they made their bones. Others have made themselves so universally loved that they don't even belong to one certain state but to the country as a whole. That's why Bob Dylan was trumped by Prince in Minnesota. Dylan is for the world, not just the Twin Cities, though the Purple One is for everyone with a pulse who likes to get freaky.

Some artists reflect the nature of their states almost to the letter, becoming shorthand for the attitude and feeling of the state, like the Beach Boys in California, or the Ramones in New York. Jack Johnson's music inspires us to think of the Hawaii of the modern age. Don Ho is the old guard.

As for New Hampshire, the Poo Poo Rocker, GG Allin, is the best we could think of, even though we doubt that the majority of the populace knows who he is, nor would want to share a zip code with him if he was still alive.

Elvis Presley was indeed born in Tupelo, Miss., but his Memphis ties (Graceland, duh) are so woven into the Tennessee fabric that he couldn't not be the official artist of the state. We picked Willie Nelson for Texas, because his music and life tells the story of the state we live in, from the heartache and beauty to the outlaw rabble-rousing.


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