Southeast musician Andrew Miller recently released an album covering the people, place, and politics of Southeast Alaska.
It wouldn’t be complete without a shout-out to Haines.
Few parts of Southeast Alaskan life are memorialized in popular culture. Oppressive rain. Struggling with the ubiquitous but unlikely desire to become an Alaska Airlines Gold 75k MVP. Stepping in dog poop.
But this Halloween, musician Andrew Miller dropped an album that speaks to all those things — and the people of the Panhandle.
“A Coastie took my girl /All my life is rain/ Bought some Xtratufs/ but they don’t keep out the pain,” Miller sings.
He’s lived in Alaska for more than a decade, in Anchorage and Sitka. He left to get a law degree, before settling in Juneau to work an ambiguous job in front of a screen for the state.
His album “15 Juneau Songs” is the product of his non-work hours, with songs that range from peak oil . . .
“Bring me back to yesterday / when we burned through free money / and the Speaker of the House never seemed to worry.”
. . . to expressions of love:
“And if you lived in Douglas/ I’d take your dog out for walks in the snow and the cold after dark.”
He also examines the relationships between Southeast’s isolated communities.
“If we lived in Haines we wouldn’t look down on Juneau/ But we’d probably keep away/
/And all our friends from Juneau would make up excuses to visit us in Haines.”
Miller wrote “If We Lived in Haines” about the stories we tell ourselves to make us feel different from our closest neighbors — whether they’re true or not.
“One thing I noticed about people in Juneau: they love Haines. But they also kind of want to take it over. And I think it’s funny, also — Juneau isn’t a big city, but people there think it’s big, and that they’re sophisticated compared to cute little Haines,” Miller said.
But his sense of parody unwinds into serious questions: what does it take to be a real Alaskan? Can you judge the town you live in before it changes you? How much free wine does it take to make up for reaching Alaska Airlines MVP?
“Alaska Airlines MVP Gold 75k /Someday that will be me/ And we’ll sit in first class all the way to Nome/ sipping on wine for free.”
His songs help you appreciate — or at least see — Alaska a little more clearly. A big state that feels like a small neighborhood, where there are few disparate pieces of life. The Governor cuts in line at the grocery store. Your five ex-girlfriends live in a five-block radius. And MVP status? Just keeps you coming back.
You can listen to Miller’s full album here.