Though many have undoubtedly heard it, even some lifelong Oklahoma residents are unaware of the official state song and how it came to be. Below are the lyrics of "Oklahoma," as well as some other little-known facts about Oklahoma state songs.
Background of Oklahoma's Official State Song
The title song for the 1943 Broadway Musical "Oklahoma!" by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, "Oklahoma!" was named the official state song and anthem in 1953, just prior to the release of the musical's film version starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones.
In the musical, the song is performed by the character Curly in the 2nd act. He is soon joined by the chorus. George Nigh, later the Governor but at the time a State Representative, was the primary author of the legislation designating "Oklahoma!" as the official state song.
Brand new state! Brand new state, gonna treat you great!
Gonna give you barley, carrots and pertaters!
Pasture fer the cattle, spinach and termayters!
Flowers on the prairie where the June bugs zoom,
Plen'y of air and plen'y of room,
Plen'y of room to swing a rope!
Plen'y of heart and plen'y of hope!
Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain,
And the waivin' wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain.
Oklahoma, ev'ry night my honey lamb and I
Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk makin' lazy circles in the sky.<br/>We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand!
And when we say YEEOW! A-Yip-I-oee-ay!
We're only sayin'
You're doin' fine, Oklahoma!
Other Oklahoma State Songs
Many are surprised to learn that in addition to "Oklahoma!," the state has other songs designated in official capacities by musical genre. Here are a few of them:
- Rock Song - In 2008, the Oklahoma State Legislature formed a committee and tasked it with honoring the state's rock and roll heritage. Comprised of folks in the music business, the committee took nominations and released a list of 10 finalists, all from Oklahoma artists. The public voted online, and in March 2009, "Do You Realize?" off The Flaming Lips' 2002 album "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" was chosen.
- Folk Song - Born in Okemah, Oklahoma, Woody Guthrie is one of the state's best known entertainers, a folk singer-songwriter nicknamed the "Dust Bowl Troubadour." Guthrie had many famous songs, including "This Land is Your Land," but it was the song "Oklahoma Hills," written with his cousin Jack Guthrie that earned designation in 2001 as the official Oklahoma state folk song. The chorus says, "Way down yonder in the Indian nation, a cowboy’s life is my occupation, in the Oklahoma hills where I was born."
- Country and Western Song - From Reba McEntire to Carrie Underwood and many more, there's a rich history of country music in Oklahoma. With his father John, The Texas Playboys leader Bob Wills wrote "Faded Love," a Western swing song from 1950 perhaps even better known by the Patsy Cline 1963 cover version. Though Wills wasn't born in Oklahoma, the band was a prominent feature in Tulsa, and the song was officially recognized in 1988.
- Children's Song - "I am proud to say your future's looking grand. Yes, Oklahoma, such history. Ev'ry day you give a gift just for me," says "Oklahoma, My Native Land" by former Tulsa music teacher Martha Kemm Barrett. It was honored as the official children's song in 1996.