Alabama, Legislature may not
be true to thee, but I will be
"Little, little, can I give thee, Alabama, mother mine…"
And, that’s exactly what the Alabama Legislature has done by changing the state song.
The words of the former state song, "Alabama," were written by Julia Tutwiler, one of Alabama’s great educators. It was first sung to an Austrian tune, but music written by Edna Gockel Gussen was adopted by the Legislature in 1931.
It’s a shame that Alabama legislators have chosen to not "be true to thee" and have changed what has endured many years.
Sen. Jack Biddle, R-Gardendale, introduced the bill that the Senate passed 32-1 last Wednesday.
That legislation — since Gov. Don Siegelman has ever intention of signing it into law — changes "Alabama" from being the state song to being the state anthem. Jimmy Buffett’s "Stars Fell on Alabama" is now the state song and "My Home’s in Alabama" by the band Alabama is the state ballad.
What was Biddle’s reasoning for the change? He has said people can’t sing "Alabama," but people all over know the tune to "Stars Fell on Alabama."
So what if everyone doesn’t know the state song! There are probably a lot of people who don’t know the Yellowhammer is the state bird? Does that mean we’re going to change that, too?
I know for a fact a lot of people don’t know the words to the National Anthem. So, are we going to change that? Of course not! Well, then again, Congress has considered doing just that.
"Alabama" has a special place in my heart. I learned it in fourth grade Alabama history and sang it many times in choral competitions and school choirs. Sometimes, I even find myself humming the tune.
The song’s seven verses describe Alabama from "thy prairies broad and fertile, were thy snow-white cotton shines, To the hills where coal and iron hide in thy exhaustless mines, Strong-armed miners ­ sturdy farmers…From thy quarries where the marble, White as that of Paros gleams, Waiting till thy sculptor’s chisel, Wake to life a poet’s dreams; For not only wealth of nature, Wealth of mind has thou to fee…"
The fifth verse describes "Where the perfumed south-wind whispers, Thy magnolia groves among, Softer than a mother’s kisses, Sweeter than a mother’s song; Where the golden jasmine trailing, Woos the treasure-laden bee…
"Brave and pure thy men and women, Better this than corn and wine, Make us worthy, God in Heaven, Of this goodly land of Thine; Hearts as open as our doorways, Liberal hands and spirits free…"
Well, apparently the words of this song are not "worthy" enough for Alabama legislators, when, in my opinion, it aptly describes the great land where we live.
And, another thing, don’t these legislators have more important things to debate and vote on than changing the state song? When they’re all scrounging around at the last minute ­ and stopping the clock ­ to get those budgets done before the session ends, maybe they should think back to the time they could have spent making sure everything was in order.
In closing, I will say, "Alabama, Alabama, I [for one] will aye be true to thee!"
April 25, 2000 3:00 PM
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