Sunday, June 18, 2017

Still Life with Robin: Singin' of the Red Line

Photo by Bill Adler
by Peggy Robin

On Tuesday of this week there was a big front-page-of-the-Style-section feature on local singer/composer Jason Mendelson, whose six-and-a-half year project has been to create a great 91-song oeuvre about the entire 118-mile Metro system, writing one song for each station.

While it was fun to read about the AOL senior manager/tax law specialist by day and musician by night, there wasn’t a lot said in the piece about the actual songs for each of the stations. So I thought I’d provide some quick liner notes about how well the songs captured the essence of each station’s neighborhood – or at least for a handful of the stops around here. (I’m not about to put in the hours needed to listen to and critique the songs for all of the stations in the system. Four out of 91 is plenty. I listened to the songs about the stations along the Red Line starting at the District line, going south as far as Cleveland Park. I would have done Woodley Park, too, but couldn’t find the link to the song for that station. If you can find it, please send it to me!)

1. Friendship Heights:
According to Mendelson, it’s all about the shopping....”Mazza Gallerie calls” offering ”retail therapy.” But people aren’t taking the Metro here, they’re all coming in their cars, looking for parking, and midway through the song, he moans, “They’re towing my Lexus.”

2. Tenleytown:
Here’s a jaunty little number subtitled “Don’t Tear That Old House Down.” He’s talking about the house he grew up in, on Albemarle, and he’s reminiscing about buying record albums at Sears and tools  at Hechinger’s – and how things have changed (not for the better).

3. Van Ness
“Modern Times at Van Ness” Is a boy-meets-girl story that takes place at UDC, where you find “forward-thinking women and some slightly pretentious boys.”

4. Cleveland Park
This one’s a slow elegiac ballad that tells the early history of the neighborhood, from the building of Grover Cleveland’s mansion far from the swampy scent of the Potomac to “the modern world” that “moves way too fast.” He tells us “Don’t fix what isn’t broken. The Uptown still has one big screen. We still remember Grover.” The song trails off with that thought. It’s not catchy, but somehow, it’s sticking with me…..

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on weekends.

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