State songs and vindication

August 4th, 2009  |  Tags: , , , ,  |  1 Comment

I spent my teenage and high school years in Maryland and developed an ironic appreciation for the Maryland state song, which is notable for its spectacular, over-the-top bloodthirst, its barely-implicit Confederate sympathies, and the hilarity inherent in setting such a text to the same tune as “O Tannenbaum”:

The despot’s heel is on thy shore,
Maryland, my Maryland!
His torch is at thy temple door,
Maryland, my Maryland!
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore,
And be the battle queen of yore,
Maryland, my Maryland!

When Andrea and I were still in college and not yet married, we went to a friend’s parents’ house to watch a Vikings game with a few of our classmates. (For reasons that will be obvious later, I note that this game was part of the Vikings’ amazing and ultimately heartbreaking 1998 campaign.) At one point, the conversation shifted to the subject of state branding (mottos, flowers, birds, songs, names for ice cream flavors, etc.). In an attempt to delight my friends, I performed the Maryland state song. My love, who had grown up in the fine state of Iowa, was less than delighted.

“What a stupid tune for a state song,” Andrea said, among other quite pointed comments that revealed her shock that I would have consented to live in a state with such a stupid song. I took no umbrage, as I had only a slight emotional attachment to the state of Maryland and none to its song. However, my zeal for tu quoque-related japery remained strong as ever.

We were in a basement and — as is often the case in certain kinds of basements — there happened to be a shelf full of Britannicas near the television. I got up, retrieved the “I” volume, and flipped pages until I found the entry for “Iowa,” which included details about its state song. In the interest of discretion, I won’t disclose the tune here, but I will note that the first line is “You asked what land I love the best, Iowa, tis Iowa.”

I mention this incident because, as of today, Andrea and I have been married for eight years, and my basement vindication might be the last time that I was right and she was wrong.

Thanks for putting up with me, sweetie.