Why Some Marylanders Want To Replace The State Song With This Beer Jingle

This past year has been all about changes. Some may have flown below the radar, such as Walmart ending a policy where multicultural hair care products were often kept behind lock and key. Other ones, such as a new name for Aunt Jemima, a new flag for Mississippi, and TBD name and logo changes for the Washington football team formerly known as Redskins, and the Cleveland soon-to-be something other than Indians, were pretty hard to miss.

Yet another change in the works is the long-overdue cancellation of Maryland's state song. If you're from one of those other 49 states, you may have only heard the song performed at the Preakness (via YouTube), at which time you might have been wondering, who are those people in white (the U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club, out of nearby Annapolis) and why are they singing a Christmas carol in May? While "Maryland My Maryland" may be set to the same tune as "O Tannenbaum," its lyrics are anything but "peace on earth, goodwill towards men." 

While the words may sound a bit obscure to anyone not well-versed in Old Line State history, a close read (or quick skim of this article from The Washington Post) reveals that they're extremely pro-Confederate. But wasn't Maryland a Union state? Umm...it was complicated. Maryland, while never technically seceding, remained a slaveholding state throughout the war. Now, 156 years after the Civil War ended, Maryland lawmakers (via WDVM) have finally voted to get rid of a state song endorsing the losing side.

Maryland hasn't yet decided on a new song

Maryland isn't the only state to have an embarrassing anthem to live down. Encyclopedia Virginia relates that "Carry Me Back to Old Virginia," a song that has a certain word in it we can't bring ourselves to say, was the title-referenced state's song until 1997, while Smithsonian reveals that "My Old Kentucky Home," a song that also has that same word in its original lyrics, remains the state song of Kentucky today. When the Kentucky state song is performed in public, however (most notably at the Kentucky Derby), that offensive word is replaced with "people" instead.

There's been talk of eliminating Maryland's state song for years, although there's yet to be any consensus on what its replacement should be. Some Marylanders prefer to amend the lyrics and keep the tune, but others think a whole new state song is in order. Among the latter group is Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.), a lawmaker-turned-songwriter who, according to The Washington Post, has written his own alternate anthem. 

The movement we'd really like to see get off the ground, however, is a push by an op-ed writer for The Baltimore Sun to have the state adopt a vintage jingle (via YouTube) for National Bohemian. You can't get more Maryland-y than Natty Boh, a beer that's been "brewed on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay" since 1885 (minus a few dark decades at the turn of the millennium).

Why the Natty Boh jingle would make a great state song

National Bohemian belongs to a vanishing breed, that of local brews more "macro" than "micro" in nature. While craft beer snobs may look down their noses at Natty Boh and its ilk (Utica Club, Old Style, Andeker, etc.), these old-school easy-drinking beers still have cult followings in their home territories. As the The Baltimore Sun piece points out, Natty Boh was once one of Maryland's best-known exports, and the brewery even owned the Baltimore Orioles during the 1960s and '70s at a time when this MLB team made it to the post-season seven times and won the World Series twice.

As for the jingle, well, as many Twitter users have attested, it's an earworm that has lasted for decades. In addition to not being associated with Christmas or referring to President Lincoln as a tyrant, the jingle actually does a great job of selling its home state along with its brew. It introduces the state's first governor, Lord Baltimore (he'd have been a Natty Boh drinker if he'd lived long enough), extols the state's "easy living," and gives a shoutout to local delicacies including crabs, clams, fried chicken, and ham (via The Baltimore Sun). National Bohemian even coined what should be Maryland's new state motto. In place of the gender-biased "Fatti Maschii Parole Femine" (meaning "Manly deeds, womanly words," according to State Symbols USA), why not adopt "Land of Pleasant Living?" Come on, Maryland General Assembly, let's think outside the crab trap and make it so!