Songplaces

Tempe, Arizona

If You Don't, Don't by Jimmy Eat World

Share this post

You know I'm thinkin'
Drivin' 405 past midnight
Don't you know that I miss you?
Museum Mile, New York
What we have here is a song with references to a whole lot of places. Trouble is, almost every sizable city in the country has the same places that this song references. For example, 9th and Ash is an intersection in about every city, town and village on the map. Like Main Street. Every place in recorded history has a Main Street. Thankfully, Main Street is not part of this song. But 9th and Ash is.

So this will call for some sleuthing. And we’re just the amateurs to do it. Having had some success with message boards in the past, we went first to a message board about this song specifically. Aside from all the pages and pages of “ooo I love you, Jimmy!” and “this song is exactly like my situation, I know it was written just for me!!”, there was some helpful information there. Nothing concrete, but things that led to other things. Two people swore the references of “driving 405 past midnight” and “9th and Ash on a Tuesday night” are about Los Angeles or San Francisco, both California cities, both claimed to have the 405 running right through them, and both have intersections of 9th and Ash.

We then turned to the artist’s Web site. Yeah, you’d think that would have been the first place, right? Not typically, though. In most cases, the artist's Web site reveals nothing about the artist in question outside of their current releases and plugs to buy their products. And true to form, In this case, it revealed nothing. Not even a history of where the band came from. Which we did find elsewhere on another Google search. Turns out they’re from Mesa, Arizona, right next door to Tempe, which is where Arizona State University is located; one of the top 3 party colleges in the nation. And - surprise! - there’s a 9th and Ash intersection in Tempe, too. And - bonus! - there’s also a little restaurant on the northwest corner called Casey Moore’s Oyster House. Evidently, Jimmy Eat World frequented the scene on Tuesdays because there was open mike night. And we’re assuming also because of the oysters.

So Casey Moore’s on 9th and Ash in Mesa, Arizona, wins the round for that reference.
Casey Moore's Oyster House, 9th and Ash, Tempe, Arizona
Now let’s tackle the 405. There’s some dissension about whether or not this line actually says “driving 4 or 5 past midnight” or “405 past midnight.” The latter sounds more plausible. But there’s not a 405 to drive in Tempe or anywhere near Tempe, whether it’s 4, 5, or even 6 past midnight. There is, however, the aforementioned 405 that runs north/south through Los Angeles in California. It’s a bypass of Interstate 5 that goes from Irvine to Mission Hills. And it’s a mere 6-hour drive from Tempe, Arizona, to get there. It’s the only 405 freeway in the country, so we don’t have much choice here. And it stands to reason that Jimmy drove the 405 past midnight if he was going back to a hotel after a gig, or just getting there on his way to one, or something.

So Interstate 405 in Los Angeles wins for this location.

There are two other references that may be a bit tougher, since we have no clue at all where in the world they could be. “Up the stairs at Weatherford” and “I would write to you from Museum Mile.” Trying to stick as close to home (Mesa, Arizona) as possible, the only Weatherford we could uncover is a Weatherford Hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona, about 2 hours north of Tempe. Which would make sense, since it’s a fabulous little place, and maybe Jimmy took this girl there and stayed for a weekend. Up the stairs. In a room. And now there’s a ghost of her whenever he tries to get outta town and escape the memories.

But Weatherford to us sounds like a college name. And - voila! - there is a college named Weatherford. It’s in Texas. Lots of stairs in a college. Something to consider.

Writing “to you from Museum Mile” seems like a cinch for New York. It’s the most famous Museum Mile in existence, since it is a mile’s worth of museums (“9 museums, 1 destination”), and Jimmy has played in New York on several occasions, so of course he sat down and wrote a letter to her from there.

So there you have it. One song, four places, three states, a lot of miles to cover. Get moving.
~ Shawna Hansen Ortega

Comments: 5

  • Jason Ankenbrand from ChicagoThere is also a 405 near Seattle. Otherwise, great work.
  • K from Not AzWeatherford Hotel in Flagstaff is haunted; that's the reference.
  • Sheila from TempeCasey Moore's was a house built in 1910, refurbished into a restaurant in 1973. Between 1973-1986, that restaurant was called "Ninth and Ash".
  • Siggyfay from Frederick, MdWell done on this analysis. However, having lived in AZ for quite some time and moreover in Mesa and Flagstaff I think you first suggestion of the Hotel Weatherford in Flagstaff is more correct. It is well known that this old hotel is rumored to be haunted and has 3 sets of stairs in order to get to the top. In addition there is a music venue on the ground floor called Charley's Pub and Grill.
  • Yeri from El ValleI don't know about there being a 9th and Ash in almost every city. That seems a little far-fetched.

    There's actually an entire website dedicated to this song: 9thandash.net
see more comments