Sunday, July 17, 2022

Writing Our 2020’s Song About Growth

Songs from the ‘80’s and ‘90’s are part of my youth in more ways than one.


Now Main Street’s whitewashed windows

And vacant stores

Seems like there ain’t nobody

Wants to come down here no more

Bruce Springsteen’s My Hometown might as while have been about my hometown.  I grew up in a steel town that doesn’t make steel anymore.  Much of my classmates did what Springsteen sang about—packed up our bags, maybe heading south.

Springsteen sung a ballad about my father’s hometown too—Youngstown.  It’s a melancholy song of a declining place in a country that didn’t appreciate manufacturing and the nation’s cravings for steel.


Well my daddy came on the Ohio Works

When he came home from World War Two

Now the yards just scrap and rubble


Even Billy Joel got in the act too singing about decline in the ‘80’s.  Allentown was about Pennsylvania towns, but it spoke to many of us Ohioans back then.


Well we’re living here in Allentown

And they’re closing all the factories down

Out in Bethlehem they’re killing time

Filling out forms

Standing in line


My kids and grandkids (I’m grateful for one of those on the way.) won’t have the same tunes stuck in their heads that I did.  The lyrics about growth and progress are writing themselves in places like Newark and Licking County in the 2020’s. 

A whole new generation of song writers have new fodder of so-called “problems” in Ohio in the 2020’s—more jobs than people to fill them, more buyers than sellers of homes, and more interested industrial businesses than available industrial sites.

My generation has an obligation to remind later generations that these problems are not really problematic in comparison to the alternatives.  Trust me.  I watched decline, not just listened to it in songs.

It’s harder to figure out how to fund a shrinking school system than a growing one nearing capacity.  It’s a real task to rebuild old streets on a dime than pave new ones on a dollar.  Waiting for your job’s new electronic paycheck in your account beats waiting for the old paper unemployment check delivered to your porch.

I’ll suggest that Bruce could write about Intel.  It’s first new factory in decades is happening in Ohio.  Ground was broken in Licking County earlier this month to signal the realness of a whole new semiconductor industry coming to the Heartland.  Suppliers are already here in Ohio and the promise is more are on their way. These facts bring with it a new song of positive progress instead of an old song of stagnation.

Billy could write lyrics about blossoming manufacturing of all sorts like soy crisps at GB Food in Heath or polycarbonate at Covestro in Hebron.  I’d suggest song writers paint a picture about Behr paint soon to be made in Licking County or get fired up about gas compressor components assembled at the recently tripled-in-size Ariel plant.  The Tamarack Dairy milk plant is expanding.  So is the thin film plant owned by Transcendia.  Expansion story lines of the 2020’s sure beat the opposite story of U.S. manufacturing in the ‘80s.

Given decline or growth, who doesn’t choose growth for their kids and grandkids?

I think there really are some lyrics in there somewhere. Together, let’s sing about growth in the 2020’s in our hometown.


This development column is a regular column in The Advocate.

No comments:

Post a Comment