Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Probably because I didn't move to Texas until long after my years in school, I thought the Texas State Song was “Beautiful, Beautiful Texas.”

To my embarrassment, I mentioned this in the company of native Texans, who promptly corrected me.

Turns out the Official State Song is something called “Texas, My Texas,” which I have never heard.

Is it more common for State Songs to be familiar to the general population, or to be mostly unknown?
—Lara Horne, Amarillo, Texas

DEAR LARA: Probably 85% of the State Songs are unfamiliar to most folks outside that state. With some exceptions (Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma, etc.), I doubt that even half of U.S. residents can accurately name their own State Song.

Along those lines, the correct title of your State Song is “Texas, Our Texas.”

Time has come to review all of the State Songs or Anthems, which should not be confused with tunes officially or unofficially designated as: Historical Song; March; Cantata; Folk Song; Ballad; Hymn; Rock Song; Waltz; Ode; Polka; Bilingual Song; etc., etc.

Some states have more than one Official State Song (Tennessee has eight), and one state (New Jersey) has none (but I'm working on that).

Alabama: “Alabama”
Alaska: “Alaska's Flag”
Arizona: “The Arizona March Song”; “Arizona” (a.k.a. “I Love You, Arizona”)
Arkansas: “Arkansas (You Run Deep in Me)”; “Oh, Arkansas”
California: “I Love You, California”
Colorado: “Where the Columbines Grow”; “Rocky Mountain High”
Connecticut: “Yankee Doodle”
Delaware: “Our Delaware”
Florida: “The Old Folks at Home (Swanee River)”; “Florida (Where the Saw Grass Meets the Sky)”
Georgia: “Georgia on My Mind”
Hawaii: “Hawaii'i Pono'i”
Idaho: “Here We Have Idaho”
Illinois: “Illinois”
Indiana: “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away”
Iowa: “The Song of Iowa”
Kansas: “Home on the Range”
Kentucky: “My Old Kentucky Home”
Louisiana “Give Me Louisiana”; “You Are My Sunshine”
Maine: “State of Maine Song”
Maryland: “Maryland, My Maryland”
Massachusetts: “All Hail to Massachusetts”; “The Spirit of Massachusetts”
Michigan: “My Michigan”
Minnesota: “Hail Minnesota”
Mississippi: “Go, Mississippi”
Missouri: “Missouri Waltz”
Montana: “Montana”
Nebraska: “Beautiful Nebraska”
Nevada: “Home Means Nevada”
New Hampshire: “Old New Hampshire”
New Jersey: Okay, it's time for them to get with the program. N.J. has never chosen a State Song, so I'll pick one for them. Absolutely perfect in every way is “New Jersey USA,” and one great version is by Danny and the Juniors. The Bureau of Tourism could not have written a better anthem for the Garden State. Listen to “New Jersey USA.”
New Mexico: “O Fair New Mexico”; “Land of Enchantment”
New York: “I Love New York”
North Carolina: “The Old North State”
North Dakota: “North Dakota Hymn”
Ohio: “Beautiful Ohio”
Oklahoma: “Oklahoma”
Oregon: “Oregon, My Oregon”
Pennsylvania: “Pennsylvania”
Rhode Island: “Rhode Island, It's for Me”
South Carolina: “Carolina”; “South Carolina on My Mind”
South Dakota: “Hail! South Dakota”
Tennessee: “My Homeland, Tennessee”; When It's Iris Time in Tennessee”; “My Tennessee”; “The Tennessee Waltz”; “Rocky Top”; “Tennessee”; “The Pride of Tennessee”; “Smoky Mountain Rain”
Texas: “Texas, Our Texas”
Utah: “Utah, This Is the Place”
Vermont: “These Green Mountains” (state name not mentioned)
Virginia: “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” (emeritus)
Washington: “Washington, My Home”
West Virginia: “The West Virginia Hills”; “This Is My West Virginia”; “West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home”
Wisconsin: “On, Wisconsin!”
Wyoming: “Wyoming”

IZ ZAT SO? Though in the minority, several of the State Songs were quite popular. With brief notes, they are:

Colorado: “Rocky Mountain High” (Written and sung by John Denver, a Top 10 hit in 1973)

Connecticut: “Yankee Doodle” (The first of many hits for turn-of-the-century ragtime banjo star, Vess Ossman. Connecticut is not mentioned in the lyrics)

Georgia: “Georgia on My Mind” (A No. 1 hit for Ray Charles in 1960, but first popularized by Frankie Trumbauer's Orchestra (1931), and Mildred Bailey (1932)

Kansas: “Home on the Range” (Western standard that became a hit in 1933 for that famous cowboy, Bing Crosby. No state is referenced in the lyrics.)

Kentucky: “My Old Kentucky Home” (Neither Romanian Alma Gluck nor Canadian Harry MacDonough ever called Kentucky home, but both recorded this tune early in the 20th century)

Louisiana: “You Are My Sunshine” (Successfully recorded in early '40s by Bing Crosby, Gene Autry, Wayne King, and future Louisiana governor, Jimmie Davis. A Top 10 hit in 1962 for Ray Charles. Though the song makes no mention of Louisiana or any state, is does provide useful weather information)

Ohio: “Beautiful Ohio” (A best-seller by Henry Burr, and a half-dozen others, circa-1919.)

Oklahoma: “Oklahoma” (Sensational theme of the 1943 Broadway musical. A ready-made State Song.)

Tennessee: “The Tennessee Waltz” (Countless recordings exist of this multi-million-seller, with the best-known being by Patti Page in 1950); “Rocky Top” (Bluegrass hit in 1968 for the Osborne Brothers, and in 1970 for Lynn Anderson); “Smoky Mountain Rain” (No. 1 C&W hit in 1980 for Ronnie Milsap)

Virginia: “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” (As with “My Old Kentucky Home,” Romanian opera star, Alma Gluck, sings of a land she never called home)

Wisconsin: “On, Wisconsin!” (This march became a hit in 1915 for Prince's Orchestra. Two versions exist, one to inspire the University of Wisconsin Badgers football team, another to honor the “grand old Badger State”)

Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column. Write Jerry at: Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368 E-mail:   Visit his Web site:

All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition.

Copyright 2011 Osborne Enterprises- Reprinted By Exclusive Permission

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