Monday, February 4, 2008

Hang On Sloopy, The McCoys (1965)

Everyone's all in a lather today about football, and I understand that Eli's Coming has enjoyed quite a workout thanks to the New York Giants, but the only football I know about is Ohio State football, so I'm going to give a shout-out to one of the goofiest songs to go to the top of the charts during the 60s, Hang on Sloopy.

One of those songs that you jive to whether you really want to or not, and I know I did, it had such a feel-good vibe to it that I guess it was only a matter of time before The Ohio State University, my alma mater, decided to make it the unofficial fight song of Buckeyes football. I still laugh when I hear it, the more so because the State of Ohio went one step further in 1985 and made it the official state rock song, of all things, after Columbus Citizen-Journal columnist Joe Dirck wrote a column about a proposal the State of Washington was considering to make Louie, Louie its state rock song.

The actual legislative resolution, which can be read in its entirety here, includes this remarkable language, to wit:

"WHEREAS, Rock music has become an integral part of American culture, having attained a degree of acceptance no one would have thought possible twenty years ago; and

WHEREAS, Adoption of "Hang On Sloopy" as the official rock song of Ohio is in no way intended to supplant "Beautiful Ohio" as the official state song, but would serve as a companion piece to that old chestnut; and

WHEREAS, If fans of jazz, country-and-western, classical, Hawaiian and polka music think those styles also should be recognized by the state, then by golly, they can push their own resolution just like we're doing; and

WHEREAS, "Hang On Sloopy" is of particular relevance to members of the Baby Boom Generation, who were once dismissed as a bunch of long-haired, crazy kids, but who now are old enough and vote in sufficient numbers to be taken quite seriously; and

WHEREAS, Adoption of this resolution will not take too long, cost the state anything, or affect the quality of life in this state to any appreciable degree, and if we in the legislature just go ahead and pass the darn thing, we can get on with more important stuff; and

WHEREAS, Sloopy lives in a very bad part of town, and everybody, yeah, tries to put my Sloopy down; and

WHEREAS, Sloopy, I don't care what your daddy do, 'cause you know, Sloopy girl, I'm in love with you; therefore be it Resolved, That we, the members of the 116th General Assembly of Ohio, in adopting this Resolution, name "Hang On Sloopy" as the official rock song of the State of Ohio; and be it further Resolved, That the Legislative Clerk of the House of Representatives transmit duly authenticated copies of this Resolution to the news media of Ohio."

Regardless of its other merits or lack thereof, Hang On Sloopy's ability to rev up a stadium crowd is undeniable. With lead vocals and guitar by 16-year-old Ricky Zehringer, later to become known as Rick Derringer, its catchy rhythm and ridiculous lyrics perhaps exemplify as well as anything that last gasp of innocence before things got too serious in our world. It wouldn't last long - the week that Sloopy was #1, right behind it on the charts was Barry McGuire's Eve of Destruction, a strident cautionary protest against racism, Vietnam and the nuclear arms race.


Norrin2 said...

Goofy? "Hang on, Sloopy" is a great song, one that made a tremendous impression on me. I'm still trying to convince one of my children to name my first granddaughter Sloopy -- with little to no success so far. I did not know that it was the state song of Ohio, but that is cool. I also didn't know about the "red dress" second verse cut from the single version until I downloaded the song recently from I-Tunes.

wendy said...

I meant goofy only in the non-judgmental sense, Robert ;) And good luck with that grandchild-naming initiative!

It's not the state song (that's Beautiful Ohio) - it's the state ROCK song! You can only imagine the difference betwixt the two in this particular instance ...

I didn't know about the red dress second verse either until I was reading about it yesterday and then downloaded it from Rhapsody, which has that version. I did quite a double take as I was swaying to the Sloopy rhythm.