Minnesota. Land of 10,000 Lakes. Birthplace of Bob Dylan, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Winona Ryder and John Madden. Site of great accomplishments by Kirby Puckett, Prince, Kevin Garnett and Garrison Keillor. So cold in the winter that going outside is discouraged lest the fluid in your eyeballs freeze. Yes, Minnesota is all this and so much more, and on this day in 1858, the territory officially joined up with the rest of the United States as the 32nd state admitted to the Union.
First explored by Scandanavian adventurers and inhabited by the Ojibwe and Dakota tribes of Native Americans, Minnesota began its formal formation in 1820 with the establishment of Fort Snelling (the area that would eventually morph into the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul). Because it sat at the northernmost point of the Mississippi River, it became an important area for trading as well as hunting and fishing. The railroad boom in the middle of the 19th century also inspired land grabs and swelled the population, which ballooned from 6,000 people in 1820 to over 150,000 by the time it joined the Union.
Over time, Minnesota’s chief exports became quality baseball and indie rock. The Twin Cities became an incredible incubator for underground music, especially during the 1980s. Bands like the Replacements, Hüsker Dü and the Jayhawks helped define the genre that would eventually morph into alternative rock, slipping in bits of punk, hardcore, New Wave, glam, pop and country into a shambling, aggressive, melodic stew. Prince, of course, found new ways to be funky, while groups like Soul Asylum and Semisonic added meticulous songcraft to their guitar-fueled sounds. Perhaps the most underrated, under-loved Twin Cities band? Most certainly Babes in Toyland, whose awesomely scuzzy “Sweet ’69” should get the juices flowing on this sleepy Tuesday.