To: Governor Larry Hogan & The General Assembly of Maryland
Perhaps it is time to replace the Maryland state anthem — you know, the Rebel marching song from 1861 that beseeches Marylanders to “spurn the northern scum” and thereby follow Virginia’s example on the whole secession question — with something else altogether. Something much more uplifting, celebratory, and inclusive. That doesn’t also do double duty as a Christmas carol.
To that end, Zero to 180 – as a public service – would like to offer the following song as a replacement for “Maryland, My Maryland“:
“Maryland” by The Crazy Five (1973)
With lyrics that everyone can get behind, and a singalong chorus that no Marylander can resist, who cares that “Maryland” never enjoyed release beyond Germany’s borders? “Maryland, My Maryland” is likewise German, and besides, we are a nation of immigrants. Borrowing from other cultures is an American pastime.
Crazy Five‘s relative obscurity and limited output (i.e., one 45) means a good deal for the taxpayers and a modest investment, ultimately, in civic pride. Tess Teiges and Walt Wister, the songwriting team behind “Maryland,” have been out of the music scene since 1975 — I suspect both would be grateful for the income and happy to negotiate a fair and reasonable sum for all parties involved.
Tony Horwitz, whose Confederates in the Attic, helped inspire this piece, was kind enough to share his response to this proposal for Maryland’s new state song in September of 2016:
Chris, thanks for your note, and I like your suggestion viz state song. Have to say, having since lived in Virginia and Massachusetts where state identity runs very strong, Maryland is challenged in that respect, since it’s such a pastiche of disparate parts and belongs to the dreaded “mid-Atlantic” doesn’t have a clear regional identity either. State pride’s never been my thing, and I like that Maryland has become fairly representative of our diverse nation at large, perhaps it’s individuality could be to choose to not have a state song at all!
“Maryland, My Maryland”: Retain or Retire?
Should the Maryland legislature — as Maryland State Senator Cheryl Kagan and the Washington Post editorial board insist — return “Maryland, My Maryland” (written in 1861, but only designated the official state song in 1939) to the history from whence it came? Or, would that be a well-intended exercise in historical revisionism and — as Governor Hogan would assert — “political correctness run amok“?
Three out of four Civil War monuments in Baltimore, as Marc Steiner points out, honor the Confederacy. Baltimore’s violent (and murderous) response to the sight of federal troops disembarking by rail on Pratt Street en route to the Federal City, it is worth noting, took place just one week after the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter. Maryland stayed on the side of the Union, but only because President Lincoln ensured that outcome, yes? Bethesda, Maryland’s William Safire – in his 1984 essay, “Patriotic Gore,” for the New York Times – mocks those who would want to deny the state’s anti-Union, pro-slavery past.
Q = Does “Maryland, My Maryland” reflect the sentiments of a majority of the state’s residents 150 years ago when Americans took up arms against each other?