Deep-sixed: Don't bother to learn 'Shenandoah'


No, Virginia, you still are without an officially blessed state tune.

The Rules Committee in the Virginia House of Delegates voted Wednesday, March 1, to table a measure that would have designated the 19th-century chanty "Shenandoah" the interim state song.

The legislation, introduced by Sen. Charles Colgan, D-Manassas, passed the Senate by a comfortable 26-10 margin in January. But it seemed doomed to failure in the House even before the Senate vote.

Weyers Cave Republican Del. Steve Landes, a member of the House Rules Committee, said, "It's been a long time since we had a state song, and it would be nice to have one. But I have a question about what "interim" really means. Does it mean until we decide to address the issue? Next year? The year after?" Landes said last month.

"This issue does need to be dealt with. I'm just not sure if this is the right way to go about it," Landes said.

After last week's vote, Landes praised the efforts of Shenandoah University's music dean, Charlotte Collins, to remove references in the original chanty to the faraway Missouri River.

"But the song still talks about the Shenandoah Valley as a focal point," Landes said, "and it just does not represent the entire state."

Colgan proposed the legislation naming "Shenandoah" in order to have a song in place for the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Jamestown colony in 2007.

Virginia has been without a state song since "Carry Me Back to Old Virginia" was retired from service in 1997. A bipartisan state panel narrowed a field of more than 300 to eight in 1998– including "Sweet Virginia Breeze" by rockers Steve Bassett and Robbin Thompson, Jimmy and Donna Dean's "Virginia," and Palmyra composer Bob Clouse's "Oh, Virginia."

The contest was suspended in 2000.

Maybe those sailors were dreaming of Old Rag Mountain?