Ten Thousand Lakes by Kid Dakota

I didn't come for ice fishin'
I didn't come for duck huntin'
I'm not Scandinavian or
In search of Paul Bunyan
"Ten Thousand Lakes" appears on Kid Dakota's second album, The West is the Future, which came out in 2004, and was treated with a greatly underwhelming response. Allmusic called the album downright miserable. Curiously, emo was very much in fashion in 2004, sad was the new happy, and a Kid Dakota album would have gone perfectly with a couple of chapters of a Stephenie Meyer book and some light cutting. We can only assume that people were happy enough with their Radiohead albums and didn't feel that Kid Dakota was bringing anything new to the table. But who says that any one band should have the monopoly on sadness (or having an awesome yet slightly whiny voice)?

When Kid Dakota chose to write a song about going back to Minnesota, it wasn't by a far stretch of the imagination that he came out with the name "Ten Thousand Lakes," although the bit about the tapeworm, well… that was a little less predictable. Ten thousand as a ballpark figure isn't far wrong, although the figure is a little closer to 12,000. Minnesota literally means "sky tinted water" in the native Dakota tongue, probably because the state contains more than 17,000 bodies of water, rivers included. In light of this evidence, the nickname of "Ten Thousand Lakes" often given to Minnesota (outside of Indie rock songs) seems to be apt, if slightly inadequate. My guess is that it rains quite a bit in Minnesota, once the snow eases off.

Lake Nokomis, one of the 10,000 lakes<br>Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/98623843@N05/41338165590/" target="_blank">Joe Passe</a>, via Flickr, CC 2.0Lake Nokomis, one of the 10,000 lakes
Photo: Joe Passe, via Flickr, CC 2.0
With a typically Indie attitude, Kid Dakota, a.k.a. Darren Jackson, sings of the many delightful things he won't be doing in Minnesota, after returning there for the winter. No, he won't go duck huntin', or ice fishin', which leaves only one thing… visiting museums in honour of the mythical John Bunyan, the notorious giant logger of the Great Lakes District. In some portrayals he is eight feet tall, weighing 300 pounds, and Bunyan is somewhat of a shared mascot for the states surrounding the Great Lakes. Ever wondered why you always imagine an archetypal lumberjack as bearded behemoth wearing a red check shirt (prior to putting on women's clothing and hanging around in bars)? It's probably due to the images of Paul Bunyan used heavily in advertising since the early 1900s. But, hold on! Kid Dakota explicitly states that he's not "in search of Paul Bunyan." Fair enough, I doubt Bunyan would like Indie music very much anyway.

Which brings us full-circle, back to the tapeworm. Out of all the reasons for going to Minnesota in the winter, Kid Dakota chooses to go "for the tapeworm. Well, I came to get better" he sings. Clearly, he thinks there is something conducive to the healing of intestinal parasites in Minnesota, one of its less-publicised attractions. However, due to reports from fisheries in the 2000s, there are often tapeworm infestations among the denizens of the Great Lakes, particularly the walleye. According to the fisheries report, this increase in tapeworms may have been due to a decline in the habitat of a particular type of shrimp. It's difficult to live in the land of "Ten Thousand Lakes" and avoid having fish on the menu at some point. Perhaps Minnesota was not the best choice of place for Kid Dakota to go to, after all.

Douglas MacCutcheon
March 6, 2014
Thanks to Kim Martin for the Songplace suggestion


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