David Dondero – “Oh Minnesota”

Duluth-born troubadour David Dondero performed at Wussow’s Concert Cafe on Tuesday. One of his new songs mentions the Zenith City and a variety of Minnesota locations. The song was penned in 2019 and hasn’t appeared on any official releases, but the demo track linked here was posted to Patreon.

“Oh Minnesota”

Oh Minnesota when I was young
got the old Knife River baby cut right into my tongue
Seen the thousand footers float under the Aerial Bridge
Skippin’ stones across the ice like living inside the fridge.
The Enger Tower, the white birch trees
the greatest of the Great Lakes
Looks just like the sea … to me

Oh Minnesota, 10,000 lakes
100,000 fishermen out there gettin’ baked
Duluth, Minnesota up off Highway 61
Revisiting Robert Zimmerman and Leif Erikson
The April showers are mostly snow
drink brandy from the Viking mug
stare into the ice fish hole below

Oh Minnesota, when we kids
if you want just a little bit
In Minnesota “just a smidge”
They’re serving up lefse and lutefisk
green Jell-O with bananas and what’s in that hot dish?
It’s cream of mushroom, wild rice
frozen peas and carrots, hamburger, tater tots on top tonight
some grated cheese and Funyuns … well alright!

Oh Minnesota, Ski-doo in the yard
the Purple People Eaters, do you remember the Minnesota North Stars?
Swarms of mosquitos and the loon are the state birds.
Pronouncing every consonant in every single word
F. Scott Fitzgerald, Paul Westerberg, Prince and Judy Garland
Sinclair Lewis wrote the words.

Oh Minnesota, where I was born.
It gets above 32 degrees and the people there think it’s warm
Oh Minnesota, when I was young
got the old Knife River baby cut right into my tongue.

It’s a silly novelty song from a serious writer who in 2006 made National Public Radio’s All Things Considered co-host Robin Hilton’s list of the 10 “best living songwriters.” We highlight “Oh Minnesota” on Perfect Duluth Day, of course, because we geek out on songs that reference Duluth.

Dondero’s full set, along with all the other performances from Wussow’s One Week Live, are available on YouTube. The embedded video below is from Tuesday night, featuring Dondero, Woodblind and God’s Holy Blood. Dondero plays “Oh Minnesota” at the 22:05 mark. Throughout his set he talks about his time growing up in Duluth.

“I was born here — St. Mary’s — back in 1969,” he remarks at the start of the show. “Then I left in 1976. I’ve been coming back for weddings and funerals ever since. But now most of the people I’ve known that are from here are dead or they’ve gotten married and moved away, so it’s kind of strange. But it still feels like the only hometown I’ve ever had … that I’m kind of distant from.”

No Comments

Leave a Comment

Only registered members can post a comment , Login / Register Here

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Read previous post:
More Literary History of Duluth: Lake Superior Writers

I'm still working on my literary history of Duluth. Lake Superior Writers has published or co-published several volumes. If you were...