Keep on rockin' in Oregon

Kevin Kamberg

Representative Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver District 53) wants a more "modern" state song.

SALEM -- The reaction goes something like this: Why would anyone try to dump "Oregon, My Oregon" as the official state song?

Actually, Rep. Gene Whisnant doesn't want to upstage the classic, but he does think it's time for Oregon to honor other kinds of music.

"Modern," the Sunriver Republican tells his resistant colleagues. "Be modern."

"Oregon, My Oregon" has been the state tune since 1927, its lyrics in the official state book.

Whisnant's House Joint Resolution 25 would add "No Place Under the Sun Like Oregon" to the list and bump "Oregon, My Oregon" to state anthem status.

It's an interesting suggestion. But why does it have to be explicitly about Oregon? Several states have adopted songs that don't even mention the state. Ohio has "Hang on Sloopy" by The McCoys and Oklahoma has adopted "Do you realize" by The Flaming Lips, both as official state "rock song" in each case.

My first thought as I read the piece in The O was, "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen. I see that Washington state has adopted it as their "state rock song" but their claim is tenuous at best. The Kingsmen were a Portland band and recorded the song in Portland. Shortly afterwards Paul Revere & the Raiders recorded a version of the song in the very same Portland recording studio that The Kingsmen had used to record their version.

While I'm on the subject of songs adopted by Washington state, I see that they've adopted Woody Guthrie's "Roll On, Columbia, Roll On" as their official state "folk song" despite the fact that Guthrie wrote the song from the Oregon side of the river and did it under contract with the Bonneville Power Administration which is headquartered on the Oregon side of the Columbia river.

So how 'bout it? Leave "Oregon, My Oregon" as is for the traditionalists and let's choose a state rock song for the progressives among us. Louie Louie is just a suggestion, although taking it back from the usurpers in Washington state would be sweet justice. But if not that song then what would you suggest? Perhaps something like Neil Young's "Rockin' in the free world"?

Comments

  • Garrett (unverified)
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    The Decemberists - On The Bus Mall

  • Zach (unverified)
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    Neil Young is not even an American, much less an Oregonian...

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    I have older friends with fond memories of singing "Oregon, My Oregon" in school. But I have to wonder how the lyrics would seem to non-White schoolchildren, particularly Native children, asked to sing them today. I doubt most White parents really want their kids celebrating this historical anachronism either.

    Children don't generally have a good ironic sense, but I think even a first grader would understand the disconnect of starting a school assembling celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday with the following song:

    Oregon, My Oregon

    Land of the Empire Builders, Land of the Golden West; Conquered and held by free men, Fairest and the best. On-ward and upward ever, Forward and on, and on; Hail to thee, Land of the Heroes, My Oregon.

    Land of the rose and sunshine, Land of the summer's breeze; Laden with health and vigor, Fresh from the western seas. Blest by the blood of martyrs, Land of the setting sun; Hail to thee, Land of Promise, My Oregon.

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    Zach, true... However, in light of his masterful "Southern Man," having been awarded the "Spirit of Liberty" by the civil rights group, People for the American Way, and the fact that he has toured for 30 years with a Martin D-28 he has nicknamed "Hank" after it's previous owner - the great Hank Williams - I personally could overlook the fact that he's Canadian. Besides, The Flaming Lips aren't Oklahomans but that didn't prevent their song from being chosen as Oklahoma's official state rock song.

    In any case it was just a suggestion. If you have a better one then please lay it on us.

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    I sure hope Whisnant isn't one of the House members who called the bill on cigarette butts a waste of precious legislative time...

  • Brian Collins (unverified)
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    I agree with Jamais. The lyrics are from the 1920s and do not reflect modern sensibilities about respecting different cultures - "the fairest and the best"??? I think that is what Rep. Whisnant is referring to when he suggest we move to a more modern state song that everyone can be proud of.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    How about we use the music of Robert Schumann's 2nd movement from his 3rd symphony and have someone famous write new lyrics to it (Bono maybe?). This movement is actually an old German Beerhouse tune they sang in Germany during Schuimann's time - so maybe it would be appropriate to use an old stien melody for a pub crawlin state.

  • DanOregon (unverified)
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    If there was a "Rocky Mountain High" "Country Roads" or "New York, New York" or ""North to Alaska" - I could see it, but trading one obscure song for another obscure song is about as dumb as proposing a flag redesign. Clearly Whisenhunt is now holding the Jeff Kropf chair on the Committee for Frivolous Legislation.

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    "Don't Take Me Alive" by Steely Dan? The world needs more G7#9 chord intros.

  • dan (unverified)
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    how about focusing on issues that actually matter?

    did anyone forget that we have almost a 13% unemployment rate and the fastest growing unemployment rate in the nation?

    I suppose we could convene a task force of a bunch of people on taxpayer dollars to come up with the new song. that would increase government and creat jobs. I know how you idiot dems love that

  • BOHICA (unverified)
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    Representative Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver District 53)

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    "...who called the bill on cigarette butts a waste of precious legislative time..."

    Boredom does wonders, dosen't it?

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    Oregon was founded as a homeland for white people. Can't we find a song that proclaims different values than white supremacy and building empire on the corpses of indigenous people?

  • Ranger (unverified)
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    Staying true to Oregon's political left: "Lenin Street" by "Null" ("Улица Ленина", группа "Ноль")

  • Garrett (unverified)
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    did anyone forget that we have almost a 13% unemployment rate and the fastest growing unemployment rate in the nation?

    Maybe all those Californians that moved here a few years ago and drove the housing prices to the unaffordable level they're at now should go back to California?

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    dan, You did notice it was a Republican who brought this issue up as a bill, not we "idiot dems," yes?

  • genop (unverified)
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    Here's one I've been singing for awhile now: "Don't worry about a thing, cause every little thing's gonna be allright" Bob (rastaman) Marley

  • Stuey (unverified)
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    After thinking about all the Progressives that run Oregon, I'll have to vote for:

    "Goons of Hazard" from the Dead Kennedys FrankenChrist album.

  • Scott in Damascus (unverified)
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    After thinking about all the bad legislation wingnuts tried to cram down our throats during the last eight years, I thought "Burnin' Down the House" by Talking Heads would be their top choice.

    Rumor has it the "Subdivisions" by Rush was up for consideration but Beaverton already claimed it as it's own.

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    Let’s ask Tom Lauderdale, China Forbes and the other members of Pink Martini to create a new state song for us. Or they could just change the word “Brazil” to “Oregon’ in tune Brazil. See here or here.

  • adam (unverified)
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    i think something from Proz and Conz is the obvious choice.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    OK, it IS frivilous and I can admit it. Shame, shame on any legislator from wasting time this way (but hey, thats what you get with our whacked 2 year budget cycle).

    Warren Zevon's, "Lawyer's Guns and Money"

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    Oh Kurt, that would be AWESOME if that actually became our state song! I'm sitting here laughing... Great suggestion!

  • YoungOregonMoonbat (unverified)
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    Crosscut Saw by Albert King / Otis Rush.

    This song would pay perfect homage to the timber industry that made this state great and educated countless tens of thousands through a stable tax base in the decades before the Spotted Owl controversy.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Glad you liked it Kevin!

  • Eric (unverified)
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    If they adopt a new state song it should be some brutal death metal.

  • Jim H (unverified)
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    I'll be forever grateful to Randy Leonard for turning me on to "Portland, Oregon" by Loretta Lynn and Jack White in a BO post a while back. The song actually came up in my iTunes mix today.

    I know the rest of the state would have a fit about the Portland reference, but damn, it's an awesome song.

  • edison (unverified)
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    Interestingly, nearly every online reference to Washington State's adoption of Guthrie's Roll On Columbia omits this verse from the lyrics:

    "Remember the trial when the battle was won? The wild Indian warriors to the tall timber run We hung every Indian with smoke in his gun So roll on, Columbia, roll on"

    How white.

  • dan (unverified)
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    jamais vu,

    notice that i said" I suppose we could convene a task force of a bunch of people on taxpayer dollars to come up with the new song. that would increase government and creat jobs. I know how you idiot dems love that"

    the Repub that came up with that isnt doing this. but if it was a dem this would certainly be happening.

  • Scott in Damascus (unverified)
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    "This song would pay perfect homage to the timber industry that made this state great and educated countless tens of thousands through a stable tax base in the decades before the Spotted Owl controversy."

    Yeah, because the corporate consolidations, debt-for-equity swaps, and UNsustainable clear-cutting policies in the 90s had NOTHING to do with it.

  • chocobot18 (unverified)
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    Oh who cares where he wrote the song. The Columbia River can be for anybody, everybody.

  • Dusty Hoesly (unverified)
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    What about Paul Revere and the Raiders' "Indian Reservation," since they are from Oregon, or Woody Guthrie's "Oregon Trail"?

    I would not suggest a song by the jazz band Oregon, and I can't find a song by any other Oregon group that stands out or is appropriate just yet (e.g. Modest Mouse, Decemberists, Sleater-Kinney, Shins, Thermals, Elliott Smith, etc.). Also, songs like "The Heart of Portland, Oregon" (by Hefner) or "Jeane, If You're Ever In Portland" (by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone") don't seem appropriate either, both because of the lyrics and because of the Portland-centric titles.

    And Kevin, The Flaming Lips are from Oklahoma.

  • Banal Retentive (unverified)
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    First, you all only do this sh*t by half measures. 60 years into the r&r era, you want to update the song. Fine. It's gotta be a music video. Come all the way along.

    To whit, I'm a fan of KC and The Sunshine Band, "That's The Way", with video of lawmakers saddling up to execs and givin' 'em a dry one. Lots of hip thrusts. Now's the time. Obama's a natural for a cameo. Big grin, thrust it under there!

    And Kevin, The Flaming Lips are from Oklahoma.

    Shhh... Some prejudices aer legit!

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Methinks Banal isn't so. Think about it.

    Is there a better state song? All you would have to do is add a graphic at the end, "Oregon. I like it.".

    The "have to pimp someone" marketers would like it too. "Sunshine" subliminally says "it doesn't rain all the time in Oregon". Can't get anything passed without a bit o' fraud!

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    Nice catch, Dusty. As a Flaming Lips fan I knew that but for some reason my memory was insisting that they're from O-hio rather than O-klahoma.

    Thanks for the correction.

  • iggir (unverified)
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    InaGaddaDavida

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    My second nomination:

    Frank Zappa's "Dumb all over" ...with a little ugly on the side.

  • rw (unverified)
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    CURMUDGEON MOMENT:

    Wow. I was all with you guys for about seven posts. THen I suddenly realized that all of this PC sentiment wafting in the air viz natives is cheap crap. You don't care at all about current topics, actual action-requiring things that are currently hurting natives. You are more than happy to babble charmingly on about the poor "indigenous" if it's just to discuss a f""""ing state song.

    But you DON'T engage ANY dialog around issues introduced in threads to ask for possible space for real, today issues that are directly and actively hurting natives!

    I was really liking this thread - but then it just kind of hit me how cheap you all are in your selectivity on this one thing. This is a really safe and non-essential place to present your native support mask. I am amazed it was not worked into the apple pie thread too! :)

    I'm grinning, not really really mad -- but it's true, kids. This is the truth. Please lay off talking about the poor natives in this thread, since you don't talk about the poor natives anywhere else. You are good to go if you want to announce correctness around blacks, mexicans. They have a place in your discourse all other places, so I think continuation here is cricket.

    But don't drop natives in here where it hurts the absolute least and costs the absolute least. It's not conscious.

  • rw (unverified)
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    OK, Curmdgeonly Moment Done:

    I'm kinda stuck thinking about a new national anthem now, as a result of this thread...

    I am thinking Zappa: "Broken Hearts Are For Assholes" would be an anthem that fits our scene right now. And then when that becomes a disagreeably bad fit, we can always spend some more time and money in session getting that amended.

    Job security for the assholes who made us into more assholes!

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    The curmudgeonly moment is deserved. Even though I have willingly discussed and even introduced the plight of natives into discussions here and elsewhere, even that is surface.

    I attended the Bybee Torture Protest Thursday Noon at the Pioneer Courthouse. Across the street in the Square was some sort of benefit for homeless Native American youth. One young guy, maybe 20 years old, came over and talked to us about what the Bush Administration had done viz torture. His question was: "so what?" It wasn't an indication that he didn't care. Rather he went on to explain in vague terms that he'd suffered physical harm at the hands of federal security forces on "the Rez" and nobody ever seemed to give a damn about that... so what made what Bybee et al did special?

    It was a tough question to respond to and us white guys talking to him were, frankly, a bit flustered. But we seemed to make a little headway and after a fist-bump and promise to return (the drums were callin' and his feet were dancin'...) he went back to the Square.

    After he'd left I mentioned to the two caucasian veterans who'd been talking to the native kid some of the stats I'd uncovered researching an old post on my blog. They were surprised to learn that while women of every other ethnic group in this country who are raped are raped by members of their own race (up to 90% of the time), Native American women are raped by members of OTHER ethnic groups up to 90% of the time. What I forgot to mention was that Native women are also raped at a higher rate than women of every other ethnic group in the country.

    Of course as onerous and utterly inexcusable as rape is, it's a different situation from the point of the protest against torture. But my (unspoken) point in bringing it up was that if something like that is completely off the radar screen of otherwise highly tuned-in progressives (we had a great chat earlier about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict), then might not that young Native kid have been referring to actual torture rather than just blowing something out of proportion? It's a sobering thought because our first instinct is to always filter what others say through what we understand to be the larger reality. And there is stuff going on in that larger reality that many of us are completely unaware of.

    Thanks for the reminder, RW. Please keep doing it. We all need it whether we realize it or not.

  • rw (unverified)
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    Kevin, thank you. I am not a mono-issue gal. I work on healthcare access and Regulatory, and soon will be headed to Salem on these - in the next few weeks. I also work on homeless stuff on the way to work, can't help it, it crosses my path. All of you surely are neck deep in your own things.... but the intense SILENCE and complete lack of interest beyond a surface comment to show that one is not a dawg.... I'm not fooled, I'm hurt. I actually do hurt from it. Because I fear becoming an ideologue with nothing really to say for the empty single-track of my patterned musings.

    Thank you, Kevin. I mentioned an important NPR airing from last week that elucidates the legal structures that exist on the reservations - very important information for us to take in! But not a single response, and I'm certain not one person went to listen to it.

    It made me understand the checkerboarding of Cherokee land even better and from a different perspective - the dilution of power so as to stop Cherokee ppl from seeking justice.... all via the gerrymander of legal jurisdiction...

    When I was in HIV work, I was always hurt that nobody included native or asian ppl in the statistics. That's not good epidemiology, and leaves out an entire universe of meanign and information.

    Anyway, thanks. I was ready to take all kinds of mean pummelings from the defensive. But instead, the deep sense of desire to connect and express my heart and mind was received.

  • rw (unverified)
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    When I was running a test site and outreach, and later here bringing AIDS research access to the black community here, my black constituency looked at me and said, "I'm black. In America. And now you want me to think about AIDS too?"

    Just like that, Kevin. That's the deal. 1 in 3 native women are raped, and it never gets investigated. The details of why are in that NPR story I posted about last week and just above. Child abuse the same, and DVIS.

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    They say that all politics is local and I believe 'em. That seems to apply to self-identity as well as geography. The mountain in need of climbing seems to be to find a way or a couching to introduce the seemingly non-local so that it'll be perceived as local.

  • rw (unverified)
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    Most natives live outside the reservations. Another fact I've brought up over and over again here. This IS local in terms of what comes to live in the urban setting as a result of federalized legal structures that ignore raped women, neglected/abused children, battered wives, assaulted men b/c the fed courts are into TERRORISM and BORDERS........

    It is documented that most natives live in urban settings. It's local, always has been... Kevin, maybe someday I find myself sitting across a table from you goodness' knows where and a dawning light's gonna hit us both at the same time. I prophesy a handshake and hug.

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    Yes, I know that most natives live off the Rez. I was more thinking along the lines of framing in a way that changes something from being perceived as happening to "them over there" to "us over here."

    For example, a litany of problems facing natives on and off the Rez may not resonate but rape remains a fairly major issue that gets folk's attention. I can't see many (or any) women dismissing rape just because it didn't happen to them or a friend/relative. Whereas perhaps it's unfortunately too easy for a (for example) anglo woman to gloss over problems on the Rez because she isn't part of that culture and likely never will be. Whereas rape is something that does get her attention. Does that make sense? It does in my head...

    Even if the response is raised awareness that is only local, that spreads until eventually it raises the awareness of neighbors of natives living off the Rez or folk living near a reservation.

    Frankly, the dynamics here are the same for the Bybee impeachment effort or warrentless wiretapping or any number of other serious problems in need of increased societal attention. It's easy for folks to tune it out 'cause it's happening "over there." As long as that's their only frame of reference then they're not going to take it very seriously. But if they can be induced to look at how the issue might directly affect them or theirs... then it becomes a more urgent matter.

    All politics is local.

    LOL - this is probably some thoroughly hashed out factoid but it's something that I've personally never really thought about and I'm mostly just thinking out loud and trying to flesh it out here.

  • rw (unverified)
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    Hey Kevin, I will return to this when I have a little thoughtful time. It's good to find the connections and patterns.

    But I want to return to the original topicality of this thread just for a moment, and offer a creative / quality input -- forgive me, I find Pink Martini to be a little tepid. They are the "song stylings of". I submit Paul DeLay, or Mr Brown and his Band of Renown, or THE MAMBO QUEENS. Ya know? Dig deep. Hip, chic, tuneful, all good. But give me some grit and a little heat as we're doing it in the mud there. :)>... erm.. Ack.

    Ok. Just waited two days to get that off my chest.

    Sincerely, NOT a Saint

  • Joseph S. (unverified)
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    I am an Oregon native. I have lived here my whole life. Leave Oregon, My Oregon alone. The anthem stands tall and strong. I was proud to sing it as a child and I'm still proud to sing it as an adult! I have a bone to pick...

    "Children don't generally have a good ironic sense, but I think even a first grader would understand the disconnect of starting a school assembling celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday with the following song:

    Oregon, My Oregon

    Land of the Empire Builders, Land of the Golden West; Conquered and held by free men, Fairest and the best."

    My friend, you need to go back to school and read of the Oregon Territory pioneers. The majority of the people in the Oregon Territory were anti-slavery according to Oregonian Newspapers of the day. One of the major issues of the 1850s was that the Federal Government could possibly force to impose slavery on the federal territories and then the Dread Scott Act of 1857 ruled that territorial legislatures had no authority to prohibit slavery in federal territories. This was one of the driving forces for the statehood of Oregon in 1859. Conquered and held by free men... black and white free men. Britain was given the boot up north to Canada, the Spanish surrendered claim to the Pacific Northwest, the French were given the heave-ho after the Louisiana Purchase and Russia was put on notice that we would not tolerate colonies. The Oregon pioneers conquered foreign and domestic foes and held on to the beliefs of a free and distinctive people and gave birth to the State of Oregon. Understandably, our natural native American friends do not share in these thoughts as conquered nations and who can blame them? We still have many bridges to build with our Native American brothers and sisters. However dark our history may be with our Native Americans , we have made progress since the inception of the song and hopefully in the near future we can help remedy the many social problems that the American Indian Community faces.. Maybe a new stanza would be more appropriate than totally replacing this historic song. Joseph S.

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