On Franklin Street Stuck on Repeat

The Beatles put “Penny Lane” in your ears. Gerry Rafferty took you winding down “Baker Street.” Bruce Springsteen hit you with a “10th Avenue Freeze Out.” And Simon and Garfunkel got you to slow down and feel groovy with their “59th Street Bridge Song.”

Now add J. Robert Wagoner to those hoping to move you with their music (Mind you, I’m steering clear of predicting how you’ll be moved).

A CD of his song “On Franklin Street” recently arrived at the North Carolina Collection. We don’t know a lot about Wagoner. He appears to have earned a master’s degree from the Department of Radio, Television and Motion Pictures here in Chapel Hill in 1974. And J. Robert Wagoner is credited as director and writer of the film Disco Godfather, which came out in 1979. “On Franklin Street” was released in 1998.

Wagoner’s ode to Chapel Hill’s main drag includes some of the names you would expect — Thomas Wolfe, Mia Hamm and Michael Jordan. But there’s also mention of Kathrine Everett, one of the first female graduates of the UNC Law School and the first woman to argue and win a case before the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana and, apparently, a UNC student at one point, also gets a shout out. Wagoner mentions another African leader. I can’t make out his or her name. Can you?

Do you know any additional details on Wagoner? Are there other songs about North Carolina streets? Let us know.

2 thoughts on “On Franklin Street Stuck on Repeat”

  1. J. Robert Wagoner was affiliated for a time with Fayetteville State University and before that, he worked for what was then known as “National Education Television.” Early on, he produced “You Owe it To Yourself” and “Operation Bootstrap.” Wagoner later worked for the television show “Black Journal” and WTVD in Durham.

    He has been a film and theatre director and actor. One of his productions that generated a good deal of attention was his reworking of West Side Story, setting this musical in an “updated” inner city neighborhood and including crips and bloods as the rival gangs, instead of jets and sharks.

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