Metro Melodies: Virginia resident writes 91 original songs about every Metro stop in area

Metro Melodies: Virginia resident writes 91 original songs about every Metro stop in area. (ABC7's Jay Korff)

Jason Mendelson's basement belies his stereotypical boring job.

"During the day I'm a tax manager so I sit at a desk and stare at numbers all day," says Mendelson.

At night he retreats to his Northern Virginia recording studio: a claustrophobic collection of electronics. But there's more than enough room down here for Mendelson to have created one of most unique anthologies in modern American music.

Mendelson says, "It didn't start as a project at all. I was just writing a song."

He picked up his first instrument at four. At 39, he plays in four bands and plays multiple instruments including guitar, bass and piano. And he recently wrapped up a remarkable feat of musical endurance.

"The common misconception is that I wrote 91 songs about Metro and that would be pretty boring," laughs Mendelson.

The DC region is home to Metro: the second busiest transit system in the nation. This rail and bus giant was designed to ease some of the worst traffic in the nation.

Mendelson says while looking at busy rush hour traffic along 395 in Springfield, "The population just goes up and up and so we've got to get smarter about the things people need to get from here to there."

This logjam of highways and byways convinced Mendelson to pen a song about every, single station. It took him six and a half years.

"The goal of Metro Songs is really to increase awareness and appreciate for public transit," says Mendelson.

Musical genres vary widely from song to song spread out over eight albums.

Mendelson says, "There's blues, there's bluegrass, country, R&B."

Song themes differ as well. He touches on issues of culture, history and race.

His song about the Anacostia station was inspired by the words and achievements of Frederick Douglass, who once lived in this area.

His songs aren't so much about brick and mortar depots. They're about the people, places and things that inhabit space around these stations.

For example, Eastern Market is an ode to that neighborhood's resilience a decade after fire gutted the marketplace.

Mendelson says he's learned more than he could have imagined about DC's history while writing these 91 songs.

Now he hopes Metro leaders learn from a troubled past of safety malfunctions and service missteps so this transit system thrives, giving commuters more options and this musician more material.

"Everybody asks me are you going to do more when the Silver Line extends. I just wrote 91 songs. What's five more? "says Mendelson.

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