This month is our fourth and final installment of songs about US States or with US state names. Our first installment in March 2003, covered Alabama through Idaho and the second installment in May 2003 presented songs from Illinois to Mississippi and the third installment in August 2003 saluted Missouri to Oklahoma. As we've said in those issues, there is a wide variety of songs about states or with state names. You'll also see that some states had many songs written about them and some had very few. In some cases, we've had to stretch the point a little when we could not find a specific song in our collection or obtain a new one that specifically named the state in the title. This month has resulted in more stretches than any other issue and sadly, we failed to find a song for Washington State so had to substitute one for Washington DC that we'll use to cover both DC and the state. This, in spite of the fact that our principal corporate office is in Washington State! Likewise, we had difficulty with South Dakota and a couple of others which you will read about as the issue progresses.
We also want to say again that this series is not about official state songs. Though you may find one or two among all 50, our intent is not to provide a survey of state songs. Rather, we want to use the theme of states to show the variety and style of songs written about states and simply add some enjoyment and fun to our regular features.
Finally, I want to restate that if we've left out your favorite song about your state, we're sorry; that's also not our intent . We also don't want to offend any of you wonderful people with a song that you might not think is representative of your state. It is important that you know that the songs we have selected are not purported to be representative of any attribute, feature or people within the state. Remember, all of these songs were written in some cases over 100 years ago and as such, represent political and social thinking far different from today. So don't get your dander up if you don't like the song we've used for your state, this is entertainment, not social commentary. Again, our intent is not to represent each state, just show the many songs written about states.
If any of you have songs you'd like presented, we'd be happy to publish a "listener" feedback" feature on state songs with any rebuttals you care to make. The "rules" for submissions can be found here, we'd love to have submissions by any of our readers, anytime and would enjoy having a "reader submission" or "favorites" feature from time to time. Heck, get involved, help us out and write a feature for us!
Come with us now as we revisit the wonderful music of America's states. As always, this issue is on two separate pages so don't miss page two of this issue.
Music by: H.H. Johnson
Lyrics by: Fred W. McCann
Cover artist: Unknown
Our song for Pennsylvania requires a bit of geographical knowledge that quite honestly, I did not have before researching this piece and the great state of Pennsylvania. I grew up in Ohio near the Pennsylvania border and she always was defined for me by the city of Erie (on lake Erie) and a fantastic park & lake on the border between Ohio and Pennsylvania called Pymatuning. Pymatuning is a place like no other and is known for an area where the fish are so concentrated that ducks literally walk on the fishes' backs to contend for food thrown by the tourists. Think I'm kidding, before you laugh check it out here http://www.pymatuning.com/Spillway.htm . Well, the other side of Pennsylvania is where the Delaware River flows through gorgeous hill country and wilderness. The Delaware begins in New York and runs along Pennsylvania's eastern border and then along the border of Delaware to Delaware Bay. She is the longest undammed river in the US and runs over 330 miles.
This song speaks to fond memories of the past; of school days in Pennsylvania and a first love from those happy days. Though the song does not carry the state name, the lyrics set the location and mood immediately
That country school in dear old Pennsylvania,
Musically, the song is not memorable. Though it reflects the style and harmonies of the day, it is not particularly unique enough to merit hit status but is an important bit of Americana. The verse seems a little labored and does not flow as well as one might like. The chorus does better and is pleasant and flowing.
Pennsylvania was the 2nd of the original 13 colonies and became the second state of the Union on Dec. 12, 1787. Pennsylvania's nickname is "The Keystone State." That term is an architectural one referring to the middle stone in an arch that holds the others in place. The term seems to have its origin in a Republican victory rally in October 1802, when Pennsylvania was toasted as "the keystone in the federal union." A state of contrasts between wilderness and cosmopolitan sophistication, Pennsylvania offers a great deal of variety to her residents and visitors. Her largest cities Philadelphia and Pittsburgh reflect and may be symbolic of the tremendous diversity in culture and commerce in the state. Blessed with incredible natural beauty she is not only a cradle of our Democracy but a haven for sportsmen and a variety of interesting and unique cultures. Her state bird is the Ruffled Grouse and the state tree, the Eastern Hemlock. The state song is appropriately titled Pennsylvania , by Eddie Khoury and Ronnie Bonner. For more information the state website can be found at: http://www.state.pa.us/.
H.H. Johnson, the composer of this work seems to have written at least one other song Cervera and His Flying Squadron. The song credits are very unusual in that both the lyricist, R.K. Beecham and Johnson are titled as "Comrade." The song dates from 1898 and depicts an American Naval squadron. Otherwise, I've found no other information about Johnson. As for his partner in this effort, McCann, I've found even less.
Hear this great Pennsylvania song Printable sheet music (scorch format only)
Admitted to the Union as the lucky 13th state on May 29, 1790, Rhode
Island is one of the original 13 colonies and is known as "The Ocean
State," no doubt due to her southern border being entirely on the
Atlantic Ocean. Her state flag (seen below) reflects that oceanic and
colonial heritage with it's anchor in the middle surrounded by thirteen
stars. Rhode Island's economy is a mix of agriculture, manufacturing,
ship and boat building and tourism. Fiftieth in terms of land area and
43rd in population she still manages to boast a range of beauty and cosmopolitan
sophistication that perhaps belies her diminuitiveness among states.
Rhode Island's symbols represent the plant, animal and mineral specimens
that distinguish her. They are the Rhode Island Red Hen (bird); Violet
(flower);Red Maple (tree); bowanite (mineral, unique to Rhode Island);
striped bass (fish); and The Quahog (shell), Her motto is perhaps the
most simple yet with deepest meaning of all the states, "Hope."
The official state song is Rhode Island It's for Me, with lyrics
by Charlie Hall
The song we've chosen to represent her is the only one we could find other than the state song with Rhode Island in the title or about her. A vintage World war One song, this work is a fabulous march that speaks of the Rhode Island "loyal sons" going off to fight the Huns. The march that accompanies the patriotic and proud lyrics is one of the better marches to come out of the war. The composer liberally has salted the melody with bugle calls and a snippet of melody from Yankee Doodle Dandy that add interest and familiarity to the tune. The verse is every bit as exciting and interesting as the chorus and overall, the song is in my opinion, one of the best composed but at the same time maybe least known song to come out of the War.
As is unfortunately too often the case, neither Ruddy or Cronson appear on any of my radar screens and I've not found any other works by either of them. Perhaps they wrote this song in a fervor of patriotic pride and never wrote another song. If so, it is our loss for this song shows a great deal of talent and promise that should have been extended. Perhaps they both marched off to war and paid the supreme price. If anyone from Rhode Island can enlighten us about these two men, please do.
Enjoy this definitive Rhode Island song Printable sheet music (scorch format only)
Our entry for South Carolina is perhaps generic, but so too was our song for North Carolina featured in part three of this series. Al Jolson introduced Carolina Mammy in the hit show "Bombo." It is a stereotypical southern "mammy" song that characterized Jolson's style and was quite popular in its day. We've showcased this song before but never published it in the Sibelius Scorch format till now. The happy woman on the cover is none other than the fabulous advertising icon, Aunt Jemima. Born into slavery in 1834, the woman who would become known to millions as Aunt Jemima was really named Nancy Green. She was a warm, friendly woman who also happened to be an excellent cook. For a fascinating biography of this woman and how she happened to become associated with pancakes, see the article at the "Scoop" collectors site about how she became an advertising icon. The music is fantastic as are the lyrics.
Called the Palmetto State and named in honor of England's King Charles I , South Carolina gained admission to the Union on May 23, 1788 as the 8th state. One of the original 13 colonies, she has a long and proud tradition. From the site of Fort Sumpter in Charleston's Harbor to her Revolutionary war battlegrounds( more than any other state!), she is rife with history and natural beauty. With a state bird the Great Carolina Wren, and a state flower the Yellow Jessamine, South Carolina emphasizes its unique natural resources and heritage. The official song for the state of Nebraska is Carolina (50states.com) a quite beautiful melody with words by Henry Timrod and music by Anne Custis Burgess. You can learn much more about South Carolina at their website at http://www.myscgov.com .
Billy James seem to be temporarily lost to us along with all the
other composers so far this month. A search of my library as well as the
Internet returns but this one song. This song was such a hit, it is hard
for me to believe that it could be James' only song. The song's quality
indicates that he should have written many more.
Music by: Vernon T. Stevens
Words by: Stevens
Cover artist: Unknown
South Dakota is one of several states we've had difficulty in finding named songs for or even in some cases, songs that even mention them. Unfortunately, I've had to go about as far afield as possible to find one in our collection or that I could acquire that even had a reference to the state. In this case, we had to settle for a song that mentions a man who spent a great deal of time in South Dakota, none other than Col. Custer of "last stand" fame. Even though Custer's stand took place in Montana, fortunately, in the Southwest of South Dakota there is a Custer county, so there you have our connection. Tenuous, but the best I could do at this time. It is a terrific march song by yet another unknown, Vernon T. Stevens, a quartermaster in the US Army.
Written as we entered the First World War, as with our Rhode Island song, this song salutes those who are going off to fight the war and do America proud. Musically it is as good a march song as we've heard and certainly deserves a great deal of attention. Like was done in So Long Rhode Island, Stevens uses the bugle call insets as well as a snip from My Country 'Tis Of Thee to brighten up the song. This one should get your toes a-tappin'. The cover on this song is a beautiful work of War art and includes an inset photo of Major General Joseph T. Dickman who was the first commandant of Camp Custer, named after George A. Custer, the training camp for 85th Div. US Army.
South Dakota was granted statehood on Nov. 2, 1889 becoming the 39th (or 40th) state in the US. She (as well as North Dakota) was part of Dakota Territory before statehood and both were admitted on the same day, hence the interchangeable position of admittance for both states. A large state, 17th in area with a wide variety of topography, she has prairie plains in the east, rolling hills in the west capped by the Black Hills in the southwest corner. South Dakota is the land of the famous Sioux or Dacotah Indians. The Dakota Territory and later South Dakota and it's people were named for the tribe. Her nickname, "Mount Rushmore State" salutes what may be her most well known attraction. Her motto, "Under God the people rule " shows her devotion to her people but an acknowledgment of the spiritual origins of our country. Among her other symbols are the state flower the Pasque Flower, the state bird the Ring Necked Pheasant, and the state animal the Coyote. Nevada's state song, adopted in 1943 is Hail! South Dakota (at SD official site) words and music by DeeCort Hammitt . Nevada's state flag emphasizes her Mount Rushmore connection and includes the state seal surrounded by a golden blazing sun in a field of sky blue. For more great information about South Dakota, visit their state web site at http://www.state.sd.us/ .
Hear this old "South Dakota" song
Over the years, we've published a number of songs related to Tennessee, most of which might better represent the state than this song, especially songs like the great Jolson hit Tennessee (Scorch format) or the Eddie Cantor hit, My Sunny Tennessee (MIDI format). However, in the interest of bringing new songs to the table, I chose one that seemingly is about both Georgia and Tennessee. A clever "away from home" song, the song speaks to the longing for home and a lover back home in Tennessee. The pull to home is so strong, even the birds in neighbor state Georgia sing about Tennessee. Written by two of America's most prominent songwriters, this song is a classic Tin Pan Alley work that showcases the high level of skill of its creators.
One of America's earliest states, Tennessee joined the Union as the
Ernest R. Ball (b. July 21, 1878 Cleveland, OH. d. May 3, 1927 Santa Ana, CA) Ball began his musical education and interests early in life and showed early talent. He was given music instruction at the Cleveland Conservatory, and as early as age 13 began giving music lessons to others. Today he is noted mostly as one of America's best loved composers of Irish songs. Though he was famed as a composer of Irish tunes, he wrote many other "mainstream" songs, actually, many more than his "Irish" output.
In 1905, Ball was already in New York City and working as a relief pianist at the Union Square Theater and later worked in Tin Pan Alley at the Whitmark publishing house as a song demonstrator. Ball remained a loyal employee of Whitmark for the rest of his life in spite of his fame. Ball's early attempts at composing were self described as "flops." In 1904 he wrote In The Shadow Of The Pyramids with Cecil Mack. Introduced by the dynamic and popular May Irwin, that song was also a "flop." In 1905 he was given a few verses written by the then state Senator, James J. Walker, who later became famous as Jimmy Walker, Mayor of New York City. He put one of the verse to music, and called it Will You Love Me In December as You Do In May?. It became a national hit. This song caused Ball to reassess his approach and in he later recounted that he realized this song had "come from the heart" where his earlier songs had been fabricated and structured. Ball said, "Then and there I determined I would write honestly and sincerely of the things I knew about and that folks generally knew about and were interested in."
From that beginning and from 1907 to 1910, Ball wrote a number of 'mainstream' songs that were moderately successful. But in 1910, a collaboration with Chaucey Olcott, changed his career. In that year, Ball wrote the Irish classic, Mother Machree. Two years later, in 1912 the lyricist of Mother Machree, Rida Johnson Young, joined him again to publish When Irish Eyes Are Smiling and his position as a writer of Irish ballads was cemented forever. He wrote hundreds of songs over his career, many Irish, many not and it is said his output amounted to over 25 million copies of sheet music sold. His last song published was appropriately, Irish, the 1927 hit Rose of Killarney with lyrics by William Davidson.
Ball also enjoyed a long career in vaudeville as a singer of his own ballads. During later appearances, he costarred with his wife, Maude Lambert. In 1927, A few minutes after his act on a Santa Ana, CA vaudeville theater, he suffered a fatal heart attack and died, just 49 years old. Fittingly, he had just performed a medley of his greatest hits as a recap of his great musical accomplishments. On hearing of his death, the great Irish tenor John Mc Cormack said; "Ernie is not dead. He will live forever in his songs."Ball was buried at Lake View Cemetery Cleveland, Cuyahoga County Ohio.
Arthur J. Lamb (b. 1870, Somerset, England - d. 1928, Providence, R.I.) is perhaps most well known as the lyricist for the famous and still popular, Asleep In The Deep (for a German version, see Des Seemanns Los in our feature about music of the sea). This song though, was his best selling hit song at the time. As with many songwriters, Lamb followed up the success of "Asleep" with At The Bottom Of The Deep Blue Sea in 1899 and another sea themed song, Out Where The Billows Roll High in 1901, both with music by W.H. Petrie. Other popular songs by Lamb include Dreaming Of Mother And Home, 1898, When The Bell In The Lighthouse Rings Ding, Dong, 1905, The Bird On Nellie's Hat, 1905, Splash Me, 1907 and the 1917 War song, Good Luck To The USA.
Once again, we were hard pressed to find a song with "Texas" in the title that we could publish (due to copyright constraints) so we had to settle for a work that is representative of the state. At least we have a bona fide Texas city in the title. A grand song of the old west with an even grander cover, San Antonio is a classic with a great melody composed by one of the best with humorous lyrics, also by one of the best. The cover by Starmer captures the authentic style of the old west and the feel of the trail. I think this cover is clearly one of Starmer's most artistic and beautiful covers. The music inside is also a masterpiece; musically well constructed and telling the tale of a cowboy whose best girl took his money and horse and ran off with "Tony" to San Antonio. It is a spirited tune that is well matched to the lyrics and the music changes mood and style based on the lyrics line. It may be subtle but it is the mark of a well collaborated effort.
An independent Republic before statehood, Texas became a state Dec. 29, 1845. Topographically mostly flat, with wide areas of sparse population and few mountainous areas, Texas is the stereotypical cattle drive land often seen in the movies. What she lacks in topographic diversity, she certainly makes up for in climactic and vegetative diversity. From a damp, sultry Gulf climate to bone dry desert or cold plains and lush tropical vegetation to tumbleweed and cactus, Texas has it all. It is not surprising that she is quite rural and her population is primarily centered in only a few major areas, mainly East. Texas offers a great deal of beauty and recreational opportunities for the outdoors oriented visitor. As well, she offers substantial history from the Alamo to the Battleship Texas for those interested in such things. The second largest state in the union, Texas has plenty of room for just about anything. Known as the "Lone Star State" her state symbols, a state flower of the Bluebonnet, the mockingbird, the prickly pear cactus and her simple state motto "Friendship" reflect the state's values and attributes. The state song is Texas, Our Texas by William J. Marsh and Gladys Yoakum Wright. Learn more about this great state's history and attractions at the official Texas website at http://www.state.tx.us/.
Egbert Van Alstyne (b. Chicago, Ill 1882 - d. Chicago, 1951) A musical prodigy, he played the organ at the Methodist Church in Marengo, Illinois when only seven! Schooled in the public school system in Chicago and at Cornell College in Iowa, he won a scholarship to the Chicago Musical College. After graduation, he toured as a pianist and director of stage shows and performed in vaudeville. In 1902 he went to New York and worked as a staff pianist for a publisher in Tin Pan Alley and began to devote himself to writing songs teamed with Harry Williams as his lyricist. The teams first success came in 1903 with the song, Navajo, one of the earliest commercial songs to exploit Indian themes. They wrote two more "Indian Songs"; Cheyenne in 1906 and San Antonio in 1907. In 1905 they produced one of the greatest songs of that early decade, In The Shade Of The Old Apple Tree which sold several million copies. For several years, the team cranked out hit after hit and music for two Broadway musicals, A Broken Doll in 1909 and Girlies in 1910.
Harry Williams (b. 1879, Minn. - d. 1922, Calif.) Williams is considered an important early Tin Pan Alley lyricist who collaborated with several of the greatest composers of the time including Neil Moret, Jean Schwartz and most frequently with Egbert Van Alstyne. He also collaborated on several Broadway scores including A Yankee Circus On Mars (1905), Girlies (1910) and A Broken Idol (1909). He began his musical industry career in vaudeville with Van Alstyne and then they began writing songs together. Williams formed his own publishing company and also became a director of silent movies in 1914. Among his most important and lasting hits are; In The Shade Of The Old Apple Tree, Goodnight Ladies, It's A Long Way To Tipperary and Mickey. (Essential facts from Kunkle, V. 3, p. 1960)
Listen to this great old "Texas" song (scorch format)
Utah joined the Union on Jan. 4, 1896
On a blue field, appears the state seal. In the center of the seal is a beehive, the state emblem, with a sego lily growing on either side. The sego lily stands for peace. The state motto "Industry" means steady effort. A national flag shows that Utah supports the United States. The eagle stands for protection in peace and war. The date 1847 represents the year that Brigham Young led a group of people to the Salt Lake Valley to reestablish in Utah, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, also know as The Mormons. The date 1896 represents the year that Utah gained admission to the Union of the United States..(From50states.com)
Nicknamed the Beehive State, with a state flower of the Sego Lily and a state bird of the California Seagull her symbols are reflective of her resources and heritage. Her primary industries are diverse and include; cattle, dairy products, hay, turkeys, machinery, aerospace, mining, food processing, electric equipment and of course tourism. The state song is Utah...This Is The Place with words by Sam Francis, Gary Francis and music by Gary Francis (link to 50states.com, Utah state song). Learn more about this great state's history at the official Utah website at http://www.utah.gov/main/index.
This song is a novelty song, meant to be in good humor and capitalizing on the supposed early Mormon penchant for bigamy. Today's Utah and Mormon Church officially do not espouse that practice but the image persists. Certainly, this song does not represent all that Utah or the Mormon faith has to offer but it is an excellent example of the novelty song genre. The cover art by DeLappe gives us a whimsical map of the area and is one of only a few examples of cover art by this artist. The music reflects the fun intended by the songs lyrics and it makes for an entertaining combination. The lyrics tell us of a man who heads West and never returns which a later letter to a friend tells why:
The composer of this work is not listed in any of our library resources and a search of the net comes up empty. Again, it seems as though the quality of this work would have resulted in other songs published by him.
Listen to this great old Utah song Printable sheet music (scorch format only)
Most of the state facts featured this month were taken from each of the state web sites cited for each featured song. As well, the terrific US States information site, 50states.com was used to find additional facts about the states. See our resources page for a complete bibliography of all other resources used to research this and other articles in our series. Also, note that all of our composer biographies are now available on one (huge) page for your reference.