Dear Governor Quinn:
Illinois needs a new state song. Our current anthem, “Illinois, Illinois” is drivel. Only once in my life have I heard a choir sing, “By thy rivers gently flowing, Illinois, Illinois/ O’er thy prairies verdant growing ..." You’re the governor, and I’ll bet you don’t even know the words.
There are so many better songs about Illinois or by Illinoisans. It’s time for a change. As you and your musical running mate campaign across the state, make a pledge to get Illinois singing again. Here are our candidates for a new state song:
“Rock Island Line,” by Leadbelly: A cornerstone of the American folk music canon, this song made a star out of British skiffle singer Lonnie Donegan, who inspired the teenaged Beatles to start a band. That’s right, the British Invasion had its roots in Illinois.
“Illinois Blues,” by Skip James. A great song of the Great Migration of Southern blacks to Chicago, “Illinois Blues” tells the story of why life is better in a big-city slum than a Mississippi lumber camp. Bonus: Sheila can play it on banjo.
“The Illinois Enema Bandit,” by Frank Zappa. There aren’t many too songs with “Illinois” in the title, so this one qualifies on its name, if not its content.
“Come On! Feel the Illinoise!,” by Sufjan Stevens. Sufjan Stevens made an entire album about Illinois, including odes to Casimir Pulaski Day and John Wayne Gacy. This, the title cut, is about the Columbian Exposition, which announced Chicago’s debut as a great American city.
“Fritz’s Corner,” by Local H. No one has ever captured Rust Belt ennui better than Local H, a two-man band from Zion. This song is about one of their favorite Illinois drinking establishments.
“Can’t Fight This Feeling,” by REO Speedwagon. Illinois pride facts! The first nuclear reaction took place in Illinois, under the University of Chicago stadium. The most mathematically perfect power ballad ever composed was written by these graduates of the University of Illinois. If there were a Nobel Prize for arena rock, REO would win. The U of I Glee Club could rock this.