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Singer Pushes Lawmakers To Make “Ohio” State Country Song
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A northeast Ohio man is hitting the campaign trail to promote a cause that’s very personal to him: enshrining into state law a song he wrote about his home state.
The music was big and loud when the Ohio State University Marching Band stormed into the House chamber before a vote to make Hang On Sloopy the state’s official rock song.
But the campaign for the state’s official country song is a bit quieter.
Zach Paxson is a singer and songwriter from northeast Ohio. And he’s on a campaign of his own, for his song “Ohio”. He says he wrote on the way back from the University of Texas/Ohio State game in Austin in 2006.
“It was the first time I felt this sense of Ohio pride, like ‘Wow, we come from a great place.’ On a Saturday at a Buckeyes game, that’s one thing in Columbus. But to be that far away from home and to see that I was really blown away. So I wrote the song on the plane coming home.”
Paxson says the song got the attention of Democratic Rep. Nick Barborak of Lisbon near Youngstown after he played it at a fundraiser. Barborak introduced a bill to make Paxson’s “Ohio” the official state country song on November 5. Just eight days later, Republican Sen. Jim Hughes of Columbus introduced a bill to name as the official state country song “My Wish”, by the platinum selling group Rascal Flatts, which was formed in Columbus. Paxson says “My Wish” shouldn’t qualify as Ohio’s official country song because it was in fact written by a Nashville-based songwriter originally from California.
“Not that ‘My Wish’ isn’t a great song – I love this song. My song, however – ‘Ohio’ – is written by me, a resident of Ohio, and it’s about the state of Ohio.”
Though they were introduced a little over a week apart last fall, the bill featuring Paxson’s song is further along in the process.
“It’s House Bill 330 – Ironically, which is my area code – it wasn’t planned out that way, but. And so we played for the committee here at the Statehouse.”
That committee approved the bill, while the Rascal Flatts song measure has yet to have a hearing. Meanwhile, Paxson is touring, but also campaigning for his song through social media and his website. He says he’s flattered the song is in consideration and that he has no expectations, but if the bill passed, he’d be – using his word – “ecstatic”.