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Detroit may be battered, but the city is inspiring song

March 14, 2009|Associated Press

DETROIT — Sam Roberts and John Rich have found inspiration in all kinds of places during their years writing and performing music.

Recently the Canadian rocker and the country star happened upon the same muse -- a certain struggling Rust Belt metropolis.

The Sam Roberts Band's "Detroit '67" and Rich's "Shuttin' Detroit Down" each have caused a stir in the Motor City and represent the latest in a long line of songs that found musical inspiration in America's auto capital.

Many of the Detroit-centric songs of the past focused on the city either as party town (Kiss' "Detroit Rock City") or violent outpost (Trick Trick and Eminem's "Welcome 2 Detroit City" and David Bowie's "Panic in Detroit").

But the Roberts and Rich efforts paint a different picture.

Roberts uses the infamous 1967 riots to make the point that Detroit has been down before and will rise again, while Rich's anthem praises the city's working-class roots.

Both songs have been championed by local radio stations, and the "Detroit '67" video even was played on the Joe Louis Arena scoreboard during a recent Red Wings game.

"People around Nashville have been comparing ['Shuttin' Detroit Down'] to 'Okie From Muskogee' because 'Okie From Muskogee' was about what was going on in the country right then. . . . I think 'Shuttin' Detroit Down' is striking a similar note," Rich said.

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