Loss of Jimmy Dean could revive interest in Virginia state song
Virginians looking to honor country music singer, television actor and sausage magnate Jimmy Dean, who died Sunday at 81, could renew a push to adopt a Dean-penned song as Virginia's official state anthem.
Virginia is one of the few states that has no official tune. It's been without one since 1997, when the General Assembly retired "Carry Me Back to Old Virginia," because its lyrics were deemed racist. The state has repeatedly tried to choose a replacement, notably by appointing a 12-member committee that sifted through 400 suggestions and whittled them down to eight finalists.
One of those finalists was the appropriately titled "Virginia." It was a ditty played for legislative committees by its composer, song-writer and Varina resident Jimmy Dean.
"It just got into politics, and you know how things get when they get into politics," Dean told the Post in 2006, at a time when the state was considering naming the song "Shenandoah" as the official state song.
"'Shenandoah' really has no reference to Virginia," Dean said then, still pushing his own tune. "Ours was written for and about Virginia."
So might the General Assembly return to work, this time to honor longtime Virginia resident? Possibly.
Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr. (R-Augusta), longtime state song guru, said Monday morning that he is quite anxious to restart the state song conversation. Hanger said he recently had a conversation Jimmy Fortune, who used to sing with the Statler Brothers, about recording versions of all eight of the state song committee's finalists, along with "Shenandoah" and, likely, a song about Virginia that Fortune has written with his wife. Having one artist record all the possibilities, Hanger said, might level the playing field between the options and help legislators finally make a selection.
"It's an item of unfinished business," Hanger said.
Hanger said he was reminiscing with his wife Sunday, upon hearing the news of Dean's death, about the television star's involvement with the process. He recalled meeting Dean and his wife Donna at a restaurant in Lexington, Va., once to talk about the issue.
"He came in with his entourage in a limo," Hanger recalled. "It pretty much took up a whole city block in Lexington."
When Dean sat down, Hanger said his own wife immediately told him what a fan she was of his music. "Oh, so you're the one," Hanger said Dean joked back.
"He was just a real neat fellow," Hanger said. "He had such a rich history...I'm sure there are things we'll do to honor him. I'm not sure we'll honor him in that way. But he was one of the finalists."
June 14, 2010; 9:46 AM ET
Categories: House of Delegates , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate
Save & Share: Previous: Cuccinelli to attend D.C. gay pride festival -- sort of
Next: General Assembly's investigative arm picks new leader in secret
Posted by: shlomitandroypethostel | June 14, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: susan166 | June 14, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: asburke | June 14, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: asburke | June 14, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: janeway1 | June 14, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: rockettonu | June 14, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mloaks | June 14, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: AspenFreePress | June 14, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Simon23p | June 15, 2010 12:59 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.