Thursday, January 14, 2016

McCoys – "Hang On Sloopy" (1965)

Sloopy lives in a very bad part of town
And everybody there tries to put my Sloopy down

Here’s a question for the American readers of 2 or 3 lines.  Do you know what your state song is?

Probably not.  Most state songs are obscure and mediocre.

The Nevada state song
Many state songs incorporate the name of the state in the title.  For example, there’s “Alaska’s Flag,” “I Love You, California,” “Our Delaware,” “Here We Have Idaho,” “The Song of Iowa,” The “Song of Maine,” “Maryland, My Maryland,” “Hail! Minnesota,” “Go, Mississippi,” “Beautiful Nebraska, “Home Means Nevada,” “O Fair New Mexico,” “Oregon, My Oregon,” “Rhode Island, It’s for Me,” “Hail, South Dakota!,” “Texas, Our Texas,” and “On Wisconsin.”

If I lived in Alabama, Illinois, Montana, or Wyoming, I’d wish that my state song had a more interesting title than “Alabama,” “Illinois,” “Montana,” and “Wyoming.”  

The Rhode Island state song
Many states have more than one official state song.  New Mexico, for example, has five.  In addition to a state song, it also has a state Spanish song, a state bilingual song, a state ballad, and a state cowboy song.

Massachusetts has a state anthem, a state folk song, a state ceremonial march, a state patriotic song, a state glee club song, a state polka, and a state ode.  The titles to all of them include the word “Massachusetts,” except for the state ceremonial march, which is titled “The Road to Boston.”

Tennessee’s official state art form is songwriting, so it should come as no surprise that Tennessee has nine state songs – more than any other state.  (That doesn’t even include the state’s official bicentennial rap song, “A Tennessee Bicentennial Rap: 1796–1996.”)

The Louisiana state song
One of those nine songs is “Rocky Top,” which is a really good state song.  “Yankee Doodle” (Connecticut) and “You Are My Sunshine” (which was written by a former governor of Louisiana who had been a successful country-music singer) are other good state songs.

But I think the best state song is Ohio’s “Hang On Sloopy.”

“Hang on, Sloopy” is actually Ohio’s official rock song.  The official state song is “Beautiful Ohio,” which is a real snoozer.

Here's the text of the Ohio legislature’s 1985 resolution declaring “Hang On Sloopy” as Ohio’s official rock song in its entirety:


WHEREAS, The members of the 116th General Assembly of Ohio wish to recognize the rock song "Hang On Sloopy" as the official rock song of the great State of Ohio; and

WHEREAS, In 1965, an Ohio-based rock group known as the McCoys reached the top of the national record charts with "Hang On Sloopy," composed by Bert Russell and Wes Farrell, and that same year, John Tagenhorst, then an arranger for the Ohio State University Marching Band, created the band's now-famous arrangement of "Sloopy," first performed at the Ohio State-Illinois football game on October 9, 1965; and

WHEREAS, Rock music has become an integral part of American culture, having attained a degree of acceptance no one would have thought possible twenty years ago; and

WHEREAS, Adoption of "Hang On Sloopy" as the official rock song of Ohio is in no way intended to supplant "Beautiful Ohio" as the official state song, but would serve as a companion piece to that old chestnut; and

WHEREAS, If fans of jazz, country-and-western, classical, Hawaiian and polka music think those styles also should be recognized by the state, then by golly, they can push their own resolution just like we're doing; and

The Ohio State Capitol
WHEREAS, "Hang On Sloopy" is of particular relevance to members of the Baby Boom Generation, who were once dismissed as a bunch of long-haired, crazy kids, but who now are old enough and vote in sufficient numbers to be taken quite seriously; and

WHEREAS, Adoption of this resolution will not take too long, cost the state anything, or affect the quality of life in this state to any appreciable degree, and if we in the legislature just go ahead and pass the darn thing, we can get on with more important stuff; and

WHEREAS, Sloopy lives in a very bad part of town, and everybody, yeah, tries to put my Sloopy down; and

WHEREAS, Sloopy, I don't care what your daddy do, 'cause you know, Sloopy girl, I'm in love with you; therefore be it Resolved, That we, the members of the 116th General Assembly of Ohio, in adopting this Resolution, name "Hang On Sloopy" as the official rock song of the State of Ohio; and be it further Resolved, That the Legislative Clerk of the House of Representatives transmit duly authenticated copies of this Resolution to the news media of Ohio.

Ohioans can be proud of their state legislature – that resolution represents American government at its finest.

Here’s the Ohio State University Marching Band performing “Hang On Sloopy” in concert in 2013:

And here’s the recording of “Hang On Sloopy” by the McCoys, which reached the top spot on Billboard “Hot 100” in October 1965.  (I didn’t buy many singles when I was a teenager, but I bought that one.)

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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