The Ohio Statehouse’s Year In Music

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Zach Paxson (left), The Mccoys (bottom), and Rascall Flatts (top) were all subjects of music-related bills in the Ohio Statehouse in 2013.(Photo: Creative Commons)
Zach Paxson (left), The Mccoys (bottom), and Rascall Flatts (top) were all subjects of music-related bills in the Ohio Statehouse in 2013.(Photo: Creative Commons)

While leaders at the Statehouse certainly tackled their share of important issues this year, they also took time to focus on one of the state’s many treasures: its musicians.

Ohio is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s also the setting for many successful musicians who were either born here or started their careers here.

Ohio’s musical talent spans a wide range. From Steubenville’s smooth-crooning Dean Martin…

…to Canton’s otherworldly Marilyn Manson…

The idea of honoring Ohio’s more-beloved musicians has seemed to strike a chord with legislators lately. Central Ohio representatives have introduced a bill to officially make “Hang On Sloopy” the state rock song.

Even the official reading of the bill by House Clerk Dustin Russell stirred members of the chamber.

“To designate Hang on Sloopy which includes the following lyrics as the official state rock song: ‘Hang on Sloopy. Sloopy hang on. Sloopy lives in a very bad part of town. All the girls I know, they try to put my Sloopy down. Sloopy, I don’t care what your Daddy do. Don’t you know, little girl, I’m in love with you? Sloopy, let your hair down, let it down on me. C’mon Sloopy, let your hair down girl, down on me.’”

Besides paying tribute to the rock classic there are other bills in the works, including one honoring an entire band.

No, not Devo, which the members formed while attending Kent State University.

And not the alt rock group The Black Keys, either, although the Grammy-winning team is from Akron.

Instead Republican Senator Jim Hughes is focusing on Ohio’s twangy roots, proposing a bill to make the official state country music group as Rascal Flatts.

The modern country group has been churning out hit songs since 2000. And two of the band’s three members are from central Ohio.

Along with winning trophies for practically every top country music award, Rascal Flatts has sold more than 21 million albums with 14 hit singles.

Senator Hughes was unavailable to comment about the bill but his office says he introduced the measure after a strong push from his constituents.

Naming Rascal Flatts as the state’s official country music group isn’t the only proposal from Hughes.

The senator also introduced a bill to make the 2006 hit “My Wish” the official country music song of Ohio.

But we could have a potential battle of the bands on tap: Democratic Representative Nick Barborak has his own bill to make this the official state country music song.

That’s the song “Ohio” by Zachary Paxson, a northeast Ohio native. The song, which came out in 2011, may not be a number one hit, but it definitely praises life in the Buckeye State.

Paxson says he wrote the song after witnessing the immense amount of support for the Ohio State University football team during an away game against Texas.

“That was the first time I traveled away from home but also home was with you as well.”

There’s no word yet on whether the focus on Rascal Flatts would ruffle the feathers of Ohio’s other popular groups that may go unrecognized, perhaps like Pure Prairie League which got its start in Waverly.

Or maybe The Pretenders, whose lead singer grew up in Akron.

What we do know is, as long as Ohio’s native artists continue to climb the charts, there will always be legislators waiting to honor them.

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