Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Massachusetts State Rock Song: Why does no one ask us about these things?

It’s a controversy the likes of which we haven’t seen since the debate over the official Massachusetts donut (Boston Crème, duh): Legislators are grappling over what classic ditty should be crowed the state’s Official Rock Song. How we’ve lived without one this long I’m not sure.

The brouhaha began when state Rep. Marty Walsh, D-Dorchester proposed the state adopt “Roadrunner” by The Modern Lovers (fronted by Natick’s Jonathan Richman) as its official rock anthem.

On the plus side, the song includes a fair number of local references and declares, “I’m in love with Massachusetts.” On the other hand, the only people who actually know this song are that small subset of rock fans who were listening to WBCN in the summer of 1976 and weren’t so high that they’ve since forgotten everything they heard.

Apparently unsatisfied with Walsh’s pick, state Reps. James Cantwell, D-Marshfield, and Josh Cutler, D-Duxbury, filed a bill Monday nominating Aerosmith’s “Dream On” for the honor. It’s obviously a slightly better known song, albeit lacking any Massachusetts-specific lyrics (or anything-specific lyrics … it’s basically just about singing, and dreaming, and more singing).

The reps cite how it was written by “Marshfield resident Steven Tyler,” but it’s worth noting that Tyler (nee Steven Tallerico) is actually … brace yourselves … a native New Yorker. (I know because my aunt went to high school with him in Yonkers. No, seriously.) Can we really have a state song written and sung by someone who grew up a Yankee fan? Also, when he sings “Dream on, dream on, dream on” at the end, windshields have been known to crack.

The other problem with these picks is they display a clear south- (and southwest-) of Boston bias. Where’s the North Shore love? It’s time one of our local legislators jumped into the fray, and I have the perfect song to do it with: “Rock and Roll Band” by Boston. I lay out the argument here:
  1. It’s sung by Brad Delp, an actual native of Peabody.
  2. It has a local reference, i.e. “just another band out of Boston.”
  3. They may have met a sad end, but the band’s name is Boston, for crying out loud.

So listen up, candidates in the April 2 special election for Peabody’s new state rep: Better make this your first order of business, before the state loses its ability to rock!

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