A state song contest, and the GOP’s concerns about our humble publisher 7 

Our national anthem is nice and all, but it looks downright anemic when you put it alongside the anthems of some of our neighbors in the global village. Compare “O say can you see/by the dawn’s early light” with the fiery opening lines of these humdingers: “We swear by the lightning that destroys/By the streams of generous blood being shed” (Algeria); and “Against the humiliating bondage of a thousand years/Rapacity came from afar to subjugate them for a hundred years/Against the cynical malice in the shape/of neocolonialism and its petty local servants/Many gave in and certain others resisted” (Burkina Faso, formerly Upper Volta). Now that’s anthem writing!

State songs, on the other hand, are often quaint and cozy things we learn as schoolchildren, then forget (save the chorus and a few mismatched shreds of verse), and occasionally are called upon to sing with fellow mumblers at college ball games. How much of Montana, the song composed by Charles C. Cohan and Joseph E. Howard and adopted by our Legislature as the official state song in 1935, can you sing without consulting your tenth-generation purple mimeograph? If you can join in on the chorus and spell-along (“M-O-N-T-A-N-A, Montana, I love you”), you’re sitting pretty. The rest is basically sunsets and flowers.

But soon Montana could soon be enjoying renewed popularity as a minor hip-hop, ska, terror-metal or bluegrass hit. An organization called the State Song Project is gathering modern renditions of state songs and hopes to have the first volume of a multiple CD set out sometime in the near future. Winners will share cash prizes totaling $25,000, plus continuing royalties. Sound like your kind of contest? For more information and complete rules for participating, please refer to the State Song Project website at www.statesongproject.com or call 1-716-688-8181.

Here’s a stone in your political soup: It seems the Republican National Committee is very concerned about the Missoula Independent. But not in the way you might think.

“I don’t want to believe you’ve abandoned the Republican Party,” a recent letter to our P ublisher Matt Gibson reads. “But I have to ask … have you given up?”

The missive, it turns out, was a solicitation for money mailed by the Republican National Committee, working under the assumption, we suspect, that folks who run their own shops are naturally, as they say in conservative circles, on the “right” side. We can’t help but wonder if they assume that captains of industry such as Gibson will contribute to the GOP’s election-year cause. “I know our Party’s success depends directly on grassroots supporters like you,” the letter, signed by RNC Treasurer Alec Poitevint, goes on. “So I am surprised and concerned we’ve not yet heard from you.”

Now while it is true that Gibson did recently shear off his ponytail, which he wore with pride for some three years, he points out that he is not now, nor has he ever been, a member of the Republican Party. “I do remember having some sort of Ford/Dole fetish back in the third grade,” Gibson told a member of our Media Watch Department, “but I think that was because I had eaten a lot of Dole bananas at that point in my life.”

Poitevint could not be reached for comment.

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