‘Maryland, My Maryland’ is the official state song of Maryland. The tune is that of ‘O Tannenbaum’ (O Christmas Tree). The lyrics are just nasty Confederate propaganda. The song was written in 1861 by a Maryland native serving in the Confederate navy. Maryland was a border state, that is, a slave state that stayed in the Union. Maryland never joined the Confederacy. The majority of people in Maryland were Unionists. About 75% of Marylanders who fought in the Civil War fought for the North. The other 25% fought for the South. When I was a kid growing up in Baltimore, I was sometimes required to sing “Maryland, My Maryland”, but I never liked it. I was never sympathetic to the Confederacy. Most people in Maryland have never actually read or thought about the words to this song, but they should! ‘Maryland, My Maryland’ refers to Abraham Lincoln as a despot, a tyrant, and ‘the vandal’, which seemed odd to me since Maryland was a Union state. However, the nastiest line in this song refers to the United States Army as ‘Northern scum.’ Northern scum. Really? Northern scum? The United States Army is just Northern scum? I don’t think a line like that belongs in any state’s official state song. It’s an insult to everyone who has ever served in the United States Army. There have been many efforts to revise or replace this song, but all efforts have failed. In 2016, some Maryland state legislators tried to get just the words ‘Northern scum’ removed from the official version of ‘Maryland, My Maryland’, but that too was voted down. In 2017, the University of Maryland marching band announced that they will no longer play ‘Maryland, My Maryland’, something that I think was long, long overdue.
The official state song of California is ‘I Love You, California.’ I don’t think that even 1 in a 1,000 Californians has ever heard it sung, including me. Every state has an official state song except New Jersey. Many state songs have nothing to do specifically with that state and do not mention the state in their state song. For example, the official state song of Connecticut is ‘Yankee Doodle’ and in Kansas, it is ‘Home On The Range.’ My personal favorite official state song is ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’, the state song of West Virginia, written and sung by John Denver.