Archive for May, 2009

The May 20 edition of the Messenger has a snapshot of facts and figures surrounding the proposed Mount Airy city budget for 2009-2010, all culled from the more expansive budget message you can read here provided by City Manager Don Brookshire. Documents this big can be critiqued in whole bunch of ways, but the central theme of this one seems to be “spare some pain now, bite the bullet later.” Unless the city plans to significantly cut back its scope of services (which is always an option) the budget essentially puts future city councils in the hole for all the supplies, capital purchases and pay raises left out this time around. But it does provide a bit of much needed tax relief and spares water users any more rate hikes. Given the current trajectory of the  economy, is this the right approach to take?

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Our new state song

Late last month Oklahoma did something totally unexpected in what is arguably the most conservative state in the country. Its legislature and governor proclaimed “Do You Realize” by The Flaming Lips as Oklahoma’s official rock song.

That the state would officially do something so whimsical is outstanding, and brings to mind the idea that perhaps North Carolina’s leaders should consider a brief break from downers such as the budget shortfall.

Wouldn’t it be great to replace the sleep-inducing official state song, “The Old North State,” (opening lyrics: “Carolina! Carolina! Heaven’s blessings attend her!”), with something a tad more contemporary?

But before we do, consider what some states other than Oklahoma have done, or tried to do.

In 1980 New Jersey attempted to honor its native son, Bruce Springsteen, and in particular his anthem, Born to Run.” A resolution in the legislature would have officially named the song the “unofficial theme of our state’s youth.” Uh, say what?

The resolution got sidetracked, however, when one state senator pointed out that the song’s lyrics included the line, “It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap,” and that the protagonists’ goal was to get out of New Jersey.

Five years later the Washington state legislature took up the issue of “Louie, Louie” by The Kingsmen, recorded in a Seattle garage, replacing “Washington, My Home” as the state song.

Despite considerable publicity and support, the effort ran out of steam, though Seattle has had “Louie, Louie Day” officially proclaimed.

One effort that had plenty of steam was that same year in Ohio.

Perhaps inspired by their Washington compatriots, the Ohio legislature approved “Hang On, Sloopy” by The McCoys as the official state rock song.

The McCoys were from Dayton and Sloopy was written about Dorothy Sloop, a singer from Steubenville.

So, back to North Carolina. What would be an appropriate, modern song for us?

Locally there could be considerable support for the theme song from The Andy Griffith Show or for Donna Fargo’s “Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.”

Beach music fans probably would be thrilled with The Embers’ “Carolina Girls,” and hip-hop enthusiasts would be sure to back Greenville’s Petey Pablo and his “Raise Up (North Carolina).”

But perhaps the most alluring somewhat recent tune is James Taylor’s “Carolina In My Mind.” Taylor was raised in Carrboro — his father was the med school dean at UNC-Chapel Hill — and in the late ’60s and ’70s no one was hotter on the folk rock circuit.

Although “Carolina In My Mind” never rose higher than number 67 on the national charts, there’s no doubt it holds special meaning for many Tarheels.

What do you think? We’re going to post this on our blog, which you can access at surrymessenger.com, so you can support one of these, or propose your own new North Carolina state song. Log in now and let’s get this movement going.

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