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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  | Category:  Maryland , Music , Politics , The District , Virginia
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"Waldorf Worldwide" might not be a bad choice, or Aretha Franklin's "Dancing in the Streets" since it does name drop Baltimore. That one could work for DC to. We coudl also go with O.A.R. or Animal Collective's "Merriweather Post Pavilion"...Tori Amos for a bit...Joan Jett...Toni Braxton...."JC" Chasez is vrom Bowie...Adam Durwitz of Counting Crows...Billie Holiday for a while....E Street Band with Nils Lofgren...The Cars (Rick Ocasek)....Frank Zappa

DC's really should be Chuk Brown, no question. Well, maybe Bad Brains or Fugazi....Marvin Gaye...Henry Rollinas(Black Flag)....Jefferson Airplae (2 members)....

Virginia, hmmmm. DMB would work, so would Missy Elliot Lamb of God(Richmond), probably too obscene. Could tap some E STrete Band since Clarence is from VA....D'Angelo...Daughtry for a little while lived in VA.....Jimmy Dean...Switchfoot(2 members from VA)...Bruce Hornsby....The Neptunes....Clipse(nahh, too obscene again)...Cracker...Aimee Mann....Timbalad.Elliot Yamin...Heck, Stewart Copeland was born in Arlington though he didn't stay long....Dave Grhol(Foo Fighters years, not so much Nirvana since that's Seattle)

Wow, we actually have a lot. Too bad most of them broke big elsewhere.

Posted by: EricS2 | May 12, 2009 1:17 PM

How about these oldies:

Ethel Levey's Virginia Song (1906) by George M. Cohan, from the play George Washington, Jr. (first Line of Chorus: I was born in Virginia, that's the state that will win yer)


There's a Lot of Blue-Eyed Marys Down in Maryland (1919), words by Jack Yellen and Milton Ager; music by Geo. W. Meyer (first Line: Maryland, Maryland, you've made chicken famous ev'rywhere).

Posted by: MikeLicht | May 12, 2009 10:40 PM

D.C.'s rock song should be the classic instrumental "Rumble" by Link Wray, since it was recorded right here in the District. In fact, I wish the Nationals would play the opening riff from that song when they get a rally going, a la the Bravesl "tomahawk chip."

Posted by: VPaterno | May 12, 2009 11:54 PM

Delaware has George Thorogood and The Delaware Destroyers. You used to pass his dad's concrete company on the way to Bethany Beach. One Bourbon, One Scotch One Beer or while your waiting in line on I95 before a toll booth Move it On Over.

Posted by: sheepherder | May 13, 2009 6:49 AM

Please Shirley Horn from DC one of the best voices in jazz ever. Puts Mariah, Beyonce et al all to shame. And rival Aretha.

Wasn't Root Boy Slim from the area?

Boogey Till You Puke!

Posted by: sheepherder | May 13, 2009 6:52 AM

MD should use either REM's "Don't go back to Rockville" or Pavement/Stephen Malkmus's "Baltimore".

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | May 13, 2009 9:48 AM

To the FBI building as an example of awful architecture, please add the Department of State headquarters, and--heresy!--the nearby Kennedy Center. Wrecking ball for both!

Posted by: rollomoss2 | May 13, 2009 10:23 AM

I suggest 'Virginia Way' by the V-Roys:

Posted by: frenchyb | May 13, 2009 11:37 AM

Gotta be "Crazy" by Patsy. Or is that the new Nationals anthem?

Posted by: jimward21 | May 13, 2009 11:46 AM

I like the big Kennedy Center candy box! You never know what you'll unwrap inside. I'd play it up more with some pink trim, and then truck it to Virginia, the best of all possible states.

Posted by: jimward21 | May 13, 2009 11:51 AM

"Gotta be 'Crazy' by Patsy. Or is that the new Nationals anthem?"

You've got the wrong song by Ms. Cline for the Nationals. In honor of their dreadful bullpen, it should be "I Fall To Pieces."

Posted by: VPaterno | May 13, 2009 12:20 PM

DC's should, of course, be the Magnetic Fields' "Washington, DC". Maryland's would be Tompall Glaser's "Streets of Baltimore." And Virginia's should be "Sweet Virginia," by the Stones. Or if you want something actually state-related, "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" would be perfect.

Posted by: pjwhittle | May 13, 2009 12:50 PM

For Virginia, I'd suggest one of the following:

Bruce Hornsby's "That's the Way It Is";
Seven Mary Three's "Cumbersome"

Pat Benatar's "We Believe"(she got her start in Richmond)

Lamb of God's "11th Hour"

Posted by: Rushfan1 | May 13, 2009 1:27 PM

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