Your State's Rock Song: Orioles, Dave Matthews, U2?
A reader writes that he was visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland last week on the day news broke that Oklahoma has adopted an official state rock song. At the rock museum, there's an exhibit noting that Ohio was the first state to declare an official state rock song, "Hang On Sloopy," by The McCoys. Apparently, the song was adopted not because Mr. Sloopy lives "in a very bad part of town," but because the song's authors are from Ohio.
State legislators generally having a passionate desire to pass some law, any law, other states have now joined Ohio in adding a rock song to their list of Official Symbols. Oklahoma's choice: "Do You Realize?" by the Flaming Lips. Instead of picking a song with a direct Oklahoma reference, such as "Endless Oklahoma Sky" by John Moreland and the Black Gold Band (2008) or "Home Sweet Oklahoma" by Leon Russell (1971), the state chose a song by a band that hails from the state. This seems to be the pattern, at least among the three states that have seriously debated declaring a state rock song.
Washington State never officially chose an official rock song, but the legislature did talk about it and did declare an official Louie Louie Day, for the song of the same name by Richard Berry, who was born in Louisiana and lived mainly in Los Angeles. Ah, well, there goes your basic theory of what connects a state to a song. But the song's performers, The Kingsmen, were from Oregon, which is close enough.
All of which is to raise a question for you. In the event that the elected officials of Virginia, Maryland and the District run out of fees to hike, controversies about vanity license plates to resolve, or ways to make it easier to carry guns, they might venture into the Official Rock Song business. In that case, you need to be ready to lobby them.
Both Maryland and Virginia have had embarrassing problems with the lyrics of their official state songs--"Maryland, My Maryland" is essentially a love song to the Confederacy, and "Carry Me Back To Old Virginny" has been retired from active duty because of its racially charged lyrics. So lawmakers may be loath to add another tune to their official collection--or perhaps they'll conclude that a rock song could relieve some of the heat the politicians get over their official classic songs.
Should Maryland choose a number by The Orioles, the legenday doo-wop group from Baltimore, or perhaps a song by Good Charlotte, the rock group that started out in Waldorf?
Should Virginia pay tribute to Dave Matthews and his Charlottesville roots, or to Missy Elliott and her beginnings in Portsmouth, or stretch the rock song rubric and go with a more obviously Virginian tune, such as something bluegrass from Ralph Stanley, who is from McClure in Southwestern Virginia; a country number by Patsy Cline of Winchester; or a jazz standard by Ella Fitzgerald, who hailed from Newport News? Or is the obvious choice a classic by The Doors, in tribute to Jim Morrison of Alexandria?
As for the District, the choice is to honor a homegrown talent such as Chuck Brown, or make a statement, in which case one contender has to be "Stateless," by U2.
Come ahead with your nominations for any and all of our local jurisdictions....
By Marc Fisher |
May 12, 2009; 8:37 AM ET
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