Monday, 14 April 2008
Analysis: Our state officials have decided to designate an “Official State of Oklahoma Rock Song.” We have to weigh in on this. The song must have an Oklahoma connection.
We would stipulate that it should be written and sung by an Oklahoman; it should be morally acceptable to mainstream Oklahoma values; and – very important – it should rock. The song should also be well-known outside Oklahoma.
Just because a song is from Oklahoma doesn’t make it acceptable. Some teenyboppers have already nominated songs that are obviously wrong, such as The Flaming Lips’ “Yoshimi Battles Pink Robots” and “She Don’t Use Jelly” (which is not about Griffin’s Grape). They have sold piles of records, but there’s probably nothing in their catalog that represents most of us. Hinder and All-American Rejects are successful Okies, but they haven’t had any hits about Oklahoma. Hansen presents a better image to the world.
Kay Starr’s “Rock And Roll Waltz” is a nice idea, but it’s more of a country song. Travis Kidd is not a rocker, either. Our official Country song is already “Faded Love.” That’s technically by a Texan, but it put us on the country charts.
Some bands are probably posting their own songs for publicity. There are several groups and songs no one – or at least no one we know – has ever heard of.
Even the title “Chicken Poop” – by Dennis and the Foul Pluckers – is unacceptable.
David Gates and Jim Webb have probably collected the most royalty checks, but they don’t quite rock, do they?
Some nominations are also wrong from the start. Eric Clapton did not do “Take Me Back To Tulsa,” though he did do “Tulsa Time” – but neither are rock songs. His version of J.J. Cale’s “After Midnight” was a milestone record, but Cale’s version might be better suited, or “They Call Me the Breeze.”
Clapton’s 70s band was all Okies, and so was Taj Mahal’s original group. “She Caught the Katy” is about one of our train lines and features our Chuck Blackwell, Gary Gilmore and Jesse Ed Davis. Almost every bar band worth their salt does that one.
Hoyt Axton is nominated twice so far. “Never Been To Spain” mentions Oklahoma, but almost dismissively. However, “Joy To the World” (you know, that bullfrog song) might be the biggest hit record ever written by any Oklahoman.
Hoyt’s mother Mae wrote “Heartbreak Hotel,” which practically begat Rock and Roll. We’d call that one a serious contender.
Wanda Jackson was the first from our state to have a rockabilly hit with “Let’s Have a Party.” Wanda was called The Female Elvis and toured with him.
Leon Russell is unquestionably the biggest force in rock we have ever given to the world. He has an unmatched musical resume and immeasurable talent. In his prime, he was the biggest concert draw in the world. We think “Home Sweet Oklahoma” meets all our criteria.
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Hoyt Axton actually wrote a number of songs with ‘Oklahoma’ within the lyrics such as “Oklahoma Song” from the album “Less Than The Song”. Songs like this may not have the appeal to the masses but the quality is there.
Thanks, Mike Garneau
Leon Russell is your best choice. Though Tulsa Time is a great tune and though Clapton isn’t from Oklahoma, when he recorded this, 3 members of Clapton’s band were from Oklahoma: drummer Jamie Oldaker, organist Dick Simms and backup singer Marcy Levy.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 15 April 2008 )