A state song is one of many official state symbols adopted by most states within the United States. A state song typically encapsulates the wonders, attributes and accomplishments of the state and is often played at state events, sporting events and celebrations. Some states have more than one state song, along with an anthem or waltz, and some even have unofficial or honorary songs as well as their official state songs. The songs are typically approved by the state's governor or legislature.
State songs sometimes include the name of the state in the title, such as Delaware's "Our Delaware," California's "I Love You, California" and Idaho's "Here We Have Idaho." Songs such as Kentucky's "My Old Kentucky Home" and Michigan's "My Michigan" also clearly identify their state. Other state songs, such as Florida's "Old Folks at Home," also known as "Swanee River," do not make the connection quite as obvious.
Some states, such as Ohio and Oklahoma, even have state rock songs. "Hang On Sloopy" by The McCoys is Ohio's state rock song, and "Do You Realize?" by The Flaming Lips is Oklahoma's state rock song. Tennessee has numerous state songs. Between 1926 and 2010, Tennessee adopted "My Homeland, Tennessee," "When It's Iris Time in Tennessee," "My Tennessee" and "The Tennessee Waltz" as state songs. "Rocky Top," "Tennessee," "The Pride of Tennessee" and "Smoky Mountain Rain" were other additions.
Some state songs are well-known on their own, not just for their official status. Connecticut's state song, "Yankee Doodle," is a well-known folk song dating back to the Seven Years' War. West Virginia adopted three state songs, including "The West Virginia Hills," "This Is My West Virginia" and "West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home." New Mexico has adopted state songs in English, Spanish and a bilingual song.
Inspiration for state songs comes from a variety of sources. Wisconsin's state song "On, Wisconsin!" is the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Badger's fight song. The song's name was the Civil War battle cry of Arthur MacArthur Jr. during the Battle of Chattanooga at Missionary Ridge.
The lyrics of Alaska's state song, "Alaska's Flag," explain the symbolism of elements in the state flag. The flag features the Northern Star and the Big Dipper on a blue background. Alabama's state song was written by Julia Tutwiler, who drew inspiration from German patriotic songs. She felt Alabama residents would take pride in having a state song of their own. Georgia's state song, "Georgia on My Mind," by Stuart Gorrell and Hoagy Carmichael, was also recorded by several music artists, including country music artist Willie Nelson.