On Wednesday, Maryland’s House Health and Government Operations Committee heard testimony on three bills that would repeal “Maryland, My Maryland” as the official state song. A state symbol since 1939, the tune was penned during the Civil War by Confederate sympathizer James Ryder Randall. Despite Maryland having fought with the Union, its song includes such lyrics as “Huzza! she spurns the Northern scum!” and suggests that Lincoln was a “tyrant” for abolishing slavery.
There have been attempts to remove the song in 1974, 1980, 1984, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2016, 2018, 2019, and 2020, but the measures have never passed both chambers of the state legislature. Now, though, speaker Adrienne A. Jones and Senate president Bill Ferguson have both said they’re on board with removal. The aftereffects of the January 6 insurrection might be enough to sway opinion toward ditching the tune, advocates say.
Two of the bills introduced also call for the creation of a new state song. It’s unclear what that might be, since notable odes to Maryland aren’t plentiful. Perhaps Rockville-born Father John Misty could provide something appropriately tuneful and witty, or former Baltimore resident Sisqó could rework “Thong Song.” But our pick would be the lovely “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” by Talking Heads, whose frontman, David Byrne, grew up in Baltimore County.