Robert Morast, Published March 06 2009
Morast: North Dakota, Minnesota need state rock songsEarlier this week Oklahoma made a major statement when the Sooner State named The Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize?” its official rock song.
This is odd for several reasons – that a state with a rich cowboy history picks an alt-rock song as its official anthem, that the state’s residents actually voted for an alt-rock song over some country tunes, and that the state’s legislators didn’t have anything better to do. But mostly the news made me wonder two things:
1. Why don’t all states have official rock anthems?
2. What songs should be the rock anthems for North Dakota and Minnesota?
After a rigorous winnowing process that involved the people who sit closest to me, YouTube and an ex-Fargoan who escaped to Chicago, here are our finalists for each state’s officials rock songs.
In an effort to make this column useful, e-mail me your thoughts, or, if you’re reading online, exploit the story’s comments function and post your votes below.
I’ll then send the results to some government officials, ask them to make this legit and hope they don’t tell us to take a hike.
Here are the finalists:
“Lie to Me,” Jonny Lang
It’s kind of odd to suggest the essence of NoDak is summed up in a soulful blues tune, but Lang’s biggest hit is also one of the prominent – and, frankly, best – songs ever composed by our state’s rockers. Plus, we seem to be good at lying to ourselves that we actually enjoy living here during the winter.
“Take Good Care of My Baby,” Bobby Vee
Vee’s No. 1 hit in 1961 has that dated oldies sound some of us young’uns can’t relate to, but it’s a true hit from rock’s earliest era.
“Fever,” Peggy Lee
This Jamestown singer’s iconic hit almost feels like NoDak; it’s sexy and standoffish and sounds sparse but compelling, kind of like our landscape. In terms of music history, no song written by a North Dakotan is more important.
“North Dakota,” Lyle Lovett
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know Lovett’s not from the Peace Garden State. But it’s hard to find a better song to serve as the anthem for our state. Lovett’s country-ish tune is lonely and introspective with a beautiful melody that’s as gritty and honest as the cowboys living in NoDak’s Western edge.
“When Doves Cry,” Prince
Trying to pick the best Prince song is like trying to figure out which finger to cut off first. This might be his best. It might not be. But right now my mind says it’s the Purple One’s most important song. And in many people’s minds, Prince is the state’s most important musician.
“Funkytown,” Lipps Inc.
Funkytown isn’t on the Minnesota map. But somehow, this post-disco pop tune snuck out of the Land of 10,000 Lakes to become a hit. And though it doesn’t scream “Minnesota,” it’s too fun to think of the state naming “Funkytown” as its official anthem.
“Girl From the North Country,” Bob Dylan
Dylan has had better and bigger hits. But this ode to a woman, presumably from the Hibbing area, plays like a musical snapshot of life in Minnesota.
“Closing Time,” Semisonic
Rock snobs will complain that The Replacements or Husker Du aren’t on this list. Big deal. More people liked this melancholy song of wanting. And it’s tied to bars, which are pretty popular in Minnesota.
Robert Morast wanted to vote for Green Day’s “Minnesota Girl.” He can be reached at (701) 241-5518 or firstname.lastname@example.org