I live in a state blessed with one of the greatest official state songs in our venerable republic. With words by Stuart Gorrell and music by Hoagy Carmichael, “Georgia On My Mind” has been wonderfully recorded by both Ray Charles and Willie Nelson. But most states are stuck with outdated, cheesy themes, like “Go Mississippi”:
Go, Mississippi, keep rolling along,
Go, Mississippi, you cannot go wrong,
Go, Mississippi, we’re singing your song,
So we thought it was time to see what the official state songs might look like if we limited ourselves to those written in the 21st century. Some are marked improvements, while others might not have quite the boosterism state tourism boards long for. If you have other suggestions, make them in the comments section below… or just call your state senator.
Current Song: “Alabama”
Alabama, Alabama, We will aye be true to thee,
From thy Southern shores where groweth,
By the sea thy orange tree.
To thy Northern vale where floweth,
Deep blue the Tennessee,
Alabama, Alabama, we will aye be true to thee!
Our 21st Century pick: “The Three Great Alabama Icons” by Drive-By Truckers
I grew up in North Alabama, back in the 1970’s, when dinosaurs still roamed the earth
Speaking of course ofthe Three Great Alabama Icons
George Wallace, Bear Bryant and Ronnie Van Zant
Our 21st Century runners-up: “It’s Hard To Be Humble (When You’re From Alabama)” by Phosphorescent and “State of Grace” by Pierce Pettis
Current Song: “Alaska’s Flag”
Eight stars of gold on a field of blue -
Alaska’s flag. May it mean to you
The blue of the sea, the evening sky,
The mountain lakes, and the flow’rs nearby
Our 21st Century pick: “Alaska” by Dr. Dog
Well it’s night time in Alaska
I hear it’s dark until the spring
Well it’s been hell back here in Philadelphia, yeah
And York ain’t what it was
Our 21st Century runner-up: “Alaska” by Camera Obscura
Current Song: “Arizona”
Come to this land of sunshine
To this land where life is young.
Where the wide, wide world is waiting,
The songs that will now be sung.
Our 21st Century pick: “Arizona” by Pedro the Lion
Arizona curled up with California
Then she tried to hide the whole thing from New Mexico
Who knew before he saw them making out in Yuma
That she had been loving someone new
Current Song: “Arkansas” & “Oh, Arkansas”
October morning in the Ozark Mountains,
Hills ablazing like that sun in the sky.
I fell in love there and the fire’s still burning
A flame that never will die.
Our 21st Century pick: “Banks of Arkansas” by Lucero
Prettiest little girl ever I saw
Stood on the banks of the arkansas
Her hair was brown and her eyes were green
She’s the prettiest little girl that ever I’d seen
Current Song: “I Love You, California”
I love you, California, you’re the greatest state of all
I love you in the winter, summer, spring, and in the fall.
Our 21st Century pick: “California One/Youth and Beauty Brigade” by The Decemberists
And the wine, it tastes so sweet
As we lay our eyes to wander
And the sky, it stretches deep
Will we rest our heads to slumber
Beneath the vines of California wine?
Beneath the sun, oh California one?
Our 21st Century runners-up: “In California” by Joanna Newsom, “California” by Rufus Wainwright, “California English” by Vampire Weekend
Current Song: “Where the Columbines Grow”
Tis the land where the columbines grow,
Overlooking the plains far below,
While the cool summer breeze in the evergreen trees
Softly sings where the columbines grow.
Our 21st Century pick: “Colorado” by Grizzly Bear
When I clung to you there was nothing to hold on tight with, you left me adrift
Colorado, what now?
Current Song: “Yankee Doodle”
Yankee Doodle went to town,
Riding on a pony,
Stuck a feather in his hat,
And called it macaroni.
Our 21st Century pick: “Kylie from Connecticut” by Ben Folds
Kylie is calling from Connecticut
It’s probably nothing, yeah, nothing at all
It said Kylie
is calling from Connecticut
It keeps coming back as she’s reading old letters
that she left in the closet with the pictures she cherished
that she kept to herself for a good 30 years
Now she closes her eyes.
Current Song: “Our Delaware”
Of the gardens and the hedges,
And the welcome waiting there,
For the loyal son that pledges
Faith to good old Delaware.
Our 21st Century pick: “Hotel Song” by Josh Ritter
Morning broke itself at last, you got your continental breakfast, dropped off the key and said goodbye, I think I thought I heard you sigh
I caught a glimpse of your licence plate, you were drifting down the innerstate
It said you were from Delaware, I said oh it must be gorgeous there
Current Songs: “Swanee River,” “Florida, My Florida”
Way down upon de Swanee Ribber,
Far, far away,
Dere’s wha my heart is turning ebber,
Dere’s wha de old folks stay.
Our 21st Century pick: “Florida” by Patty Griffin
A couple of young girls went
Sailing down A1A
Into the arms of Florida
Sailing down a highway
Singing their heads off
Protected by the holy ghosts
Flying in from the ocean
Driving with their eyes closed
Our 21st Century runner-up: “Florida” by Modest Mouse
Current Song: “Georgia On My Mind”
Georgia, Georgia, the whole day through
Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind.
Our 21st Century pick: “Georgia” by Ludacris with Field Mob and Jamie Foxx
I love the women out in L.A.
And the shopping stores in New York
The beaches in M.I.A
But it aint nothing like that G.A red clay,
Look on your map we right above Florida,
Next to Bama,
Under the Carolinas and Tennessse you’ll see – Georgia,
Where glayds knights and the midnight train – Georgia,
THE BIRTHPLACE OF MARTIN LUTHER KING
Our 21st Century runners-up: “Georgia” by Cee-Lo Green, “I See Georgia” by Drivin N Cryin, “Georgia in Summertime” by Blake Guthrie