Why are most state songs so awful?

While reading a conversation about state foods in another thread, I decided to check out state songs. Although there some good songs like “Home On the Rage” and “Tennessee Waltz”, most of them are obscure songs nobody’s ever heard of. I don’t think I’ve ever heard my state song “Washington, My Washington”–odd for a state known for its vibrant musical scene. Why are most of them so bad? And if you could, what would you choose for your state song?

I don’t think Oklahoma could do much better. It’s everything you want in an anthem.

Which state is that? :eek:


I get the feeling that many of them were commissioned. There are states for which no well-known songs exist, but there really isn’t any excuse for Texas picking “Texas, Our Texas” over “The Eyes of Texas,” or “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” or “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” New York’s state song (“I Love New York”) isn’t bad, but there are a lot of better songs than this (although many of them are about the city, not the state).

There are a lot of songs about my home state of California. Some of them are great, but probably not suitable for a state anthem: “California Girls,” “California Dreaming,” “It Never Rains in Southern California.”

“California Dreaming” is complimentary about the state, but it’s sung from the point of view of a person who is somewhere else. “California, Here I Come” has the same problem, but at least it’s upbeat, so I’ll go with that.

Here We have Idaho?

Not the most rousing title for a anthem, it sounds like a school report that was never researched :wink:

Here we have Idaho, land of people and stuff. A state whose existence is undisputed, and is located within it’s borders.

I’ve always had a soft spot for this song. But really if the state song isn’t by the Beach Boys something went horribly wrong.

Well, labeling anything ‘the state something’ usually has a negative connotation to it, as in ‘the state-run news’ or ‘the state-controlled economy’, these referring to an oppressive national govt. In terms of the individual US states, a ‘state’ something is going to be an expression of regional, collective pride. State birds, state mottoes, state flowers etc. are all examples of these. But ever since the invention of recordable media over a hundred years ago songs have fit into this category less & less. Today no one in America thinks of music in anything resembling a state-by-state basis, and only in a very vaguely regional sense either. Sure country music may have started in the South and rap in the inner-cities etc. but they are pervasive in every corner of the nation now.

So in picking a ‘state song’ it’s less about local musical styles and more about ideas (i.e. the lyrics). Consequently any sort of pride-filled song lyrics are going to sound, from a pop music perspective, incredibly corny. But that’s sort of the point. Reminds me of a bit comedian Robert Wuhl (the reporter from '89s Batman) did about New Jersey wanting to make Springsteen’s Born to Run the State song and what a bad idea it would have been (it starts about 3:20 into the clip). Particularly him saying how “Rarely do you hear the word ‘suicide’ in a state anthem…”

A bill was introduced into the Washington State legislature in 1985 to have “Louie, Louie” declared the official state song, but it was not passed.

I’m fond of this one.

Whew … it’s a good thing that Colorado had an option other than “Where The Columbines Grow” in the post-massacre era.

The short answer is committees. It’s more important to offend none than to please much of anyone.

Kansas. I grew up singing it.

The Yellow Rose of Texas wouldn’t fit, it’s not about the state but about a girl who lives there.

Maryland, My Maryland has a very bizarre and hilarious pro-Confederate slant, with numerous derogatory references to Lincoln and actual non-ironic use of the phrase “she spurns the Northern scum!”


I don’t recall much controversy about getting “Hang On Sloopy” named the official Ohio rock ‘n’ roll song. But I wouldn’t recognize “Beautiful Ohio.”

Uh, wow.

From a wilderness of prairies, Illinois, Illinois,
Straight thy way and never varies, Illinois, Illinois

Boy, they got our number. Illinois’ state song references the Civil War as well which I guess isn’t surprising given the Lincoln thing. I wonder how many state songs in total reference the war though (Maryland already mentioned above). I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a good chunk of them.

Sweet Home Alabama is pretty bitchin’.

The University of Illinois marching band begins every pregame football performance with the Illinois state song, quoted above. Other than that, the only time I remember hearing it, ever, was during a movie in grade school. I’ve never heard anybody sing all six verses, which would be a little . . . Repetitious.

Hey, “I Love You, California” was written by a guy named Frankenstein, so top that.