June 2007 Issue
I sailed away;
Crossed the mighty restless sea;
Looked for where I ought to be.
Cities so grand, mountains above,
Led to this land I love.
Beautiful Ohio, where the golden grain
Dwarf the lovely flowers in the summer rain.
Cities rising high, silhouette the sky.
Freedom is supreme in this majestic land;
Mighty factories seem to hum in tune, so grand.
Beautiful Ohio, thy wonders are in view,
Land where my dreams all come true!
In our cover feature this month, seven outstanding Ohio photographers capture the scenic wonders of the beautiful Ohio landscape. So when it came time to give the feature a title, "Beautiful Ohio" was as natural as the hills and woods and waterfalls it depicts.
"Beautiful Ohio," of course, is Ohio's official state song. (Yes, we know that some of you cling to the misguided notion that "Hang on Sloopy" enjoys that honor. But "Hang on Sloopy" is the state's official rock song, adopted by the Ohio General Assembly in 1985.)
In 1969, Ohio lawmakers adopted "Beautiful Ohio" as our official song because the title itself so aptly describes the state. The lyrics to the original version (1918) were written by Ballard MacDonald and the music was composed by Mary Earl (whose real name, by the way, was Robert A. "Bobo" King).
All of this is worthwhile Ohio history, but we felt that if we were going to co-opt a name for our cover, we were obliged to tell you - as Paul Harvey would say - the rest of the story.
The music of "Beautiful Ohio" has remained the same over the years, but the lyrics above bear little resemblance to what MacDonald actually wrote. In his original version, the Tin Pan Alley lyricist rhapsodized about "a little red canoe" where love "like a flower grew."
Everyone loves a love song but, hey, give us a break. A little gooey, don't you think? This is Ohio, after all, where our emotions - like our landscape - tend to be a little more graceful and refined than all that. (In MacDonald's defense, he was born in Oregon, so what did he know?)
Youngstown attorney Wilbert McBride (1915–2002) thought something more appropriate was in order. Rightly believing the lyrics were not fitting for our state anthem, he wrote the new lyrics above, which were officially adopted by the state legislature in 1989.
And now, with the proper credits in place, you can enjoy the artistry of our own version of "Beautiful Ohio" in the photographs of Jim Crotty, Larry Knupp, Andy Morrison, Jim Restle, Randall Schieber, Thom Sheridan and Carl Stimac.