Music & Lyrics by Scott Cooley.
Copyright © ℗ 2014 by Scott Cooley. All rights reserved.
This song was inspired by the t-shirts and sweatshirts you see people wearing in Michigan that just say "Up North" on them.
It is similar to the t-shirt worn by John Belushi in the 80s comedy movie Animal House, which just had one word, "College." The idea is that what he was not promoting a particular college, as you would typically see on a college student's t-shirt, but rather he was promoting his fondness for the college experience in general.
The Up North thing is an unusual phenomenon that may exist in other states, but I can only attest to what it means in my home state: The larger cities where most people live and work in MI happen to be in the southern portion of the lower peninsula, and the recreational areas these people tend to flock to on weekends and on vacations tend to be in the northern half of the lower peninsula and the upper peninsula. So, the idea of Up North represents relaxing, getting away from the hustle and noise of big cities, and enjoying time off from work.
It typically involves boating on great or inland lakes, fishing, and golf in the summer; and skiing and snowmobiling in the winter. On major highways there is a lot of traffic on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons, where you see the towing of boats or trailers with snowmobiles, quads, boats or jet skis. Motor sports are popular in Michigan, due to the auto industry.
So, a part of it might be showing off that you are someone who can afford to have the lifestyle that includes being able to go up north on the weekends to have fun, probably due to being one of the lucky few remaining people who have those high-paying auto industry jobs working for one of the big three (GM, Ford, Chrysler) that have drastically dropped in numbers over the last few decades. There are deep woods in northern Michigan, and there are a lot of hunters as well.
I think I read somewhere that we have a higher number of boat registrations, number of golf courses, and numbers of registered deer hunters than most states in the U.S. It used to be that you'd see a lot of people in pickup trucks with their toys in the back drinking beer on the way up north on Friday nights. Probably still happens a lot. They go to stay in cottages and cabins on lakes or deer camps in woods or in motels near where they can play with their guns and drive their off road vehicles and go snowmobiling and jetskiing things like that.
We have a lot of parks and places to camp as well - also more than most states. So Up North is an unique and interesting thing about our state, and it is indeed, a state of mind, just like those who advertise they like college.