"What is that?" I asked him, pointing.
"It's my New Jersey shirt," he replied.
Apparently, the school, or at least his grade, celebrated New Jersey day. I had (and still have) no idea what New Jersey day is all about. Do I keep missing the bulletins? Anyhow, each child designed shirts that had the Garden State drawn on it, along with the capitol, and our town. It was drawn with different colored Sharpies. It has the state flower, state fish, and other things we are known for like blueberries and horses. And then, it has a drawing of a music note with our state song.
Our state song?
My son explained that we have a state song called, "I'm From New Jersey" written by Red Mascara and published in 1961. Who is Red Mascara? A new band? My son took me right home, opened YouTube, and showed me who Red Mascara is, and what the song is all about (click here to see the video - it's wonderful). Johnny was so impressed. He told me that he watched it on the Smart Board at school with his class. He thoroughly enjoyed it.
After just reading the entire December 2010 issue of New Jersey Monthly, which is all about state pride, I was super excited and wanted to download a copy. I couldn't find it on iTunes, though someone else (John Gorka) has a song with the same name, and it's horrible and degrades New Jersey. I went to Red Mascara's page and found the song, but could only play it, not download it. I clicked a link that gave me Mascara's email address, and I wrote him asking if I could please buy a copy of his song. He wrote me back within an hour, giving me details on how to download it. He is happy to share his song, and it's not for sale - it's free.
In addition, he makes sheet music with words for varying towns, so that we can play our own town pride version. He also makes sheet music for bands to play, so if your town is having a celebration, they will have the music they need for their marching band to perform the song. He even sent me the Mountain Lakes version. Our town's Centennial begins in January and it seems like the perfect addition to the celebration. He offered to give it all to us for free, and is offering the Centennial committee the opportunity to even sell copies as a fundraiser. He does this completely out of the good of his heart, and a desire to make the song more widespread. He has yet to hear back from the Centennial committee, so if anyone on the committee is reading this, you can contact Mascara at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a great opportunities for music teachers, too, and is available for any two or three syllable town.
|"I'm From New Jersey" Laker style, Courtesy of Red Mascara|
Mascara made the song shortly after hearing from then Governor Robert B. Meyner (1960) that he was disappointed that New Jersey didn't have a song. The following year, Phillipsburg (where both the governor and songwriter Mascara were from) was celebrating it's Centennial and they decided to incorporate "I'm From New Jersey" into the festivities, and it became the official song for the Phillipsburg Centennial celebration. The song made it's way across the state, and nearly 50 years later, it's still making an impact.
I love the song, the idea, and the state pride (as you may have read in last night's blog post). I encourage you to download your own version and share it with friends. If you can't figure it out, get in touch with me and I will burn it for you. Thank you to Red Mascara, who is now 88 years old, for creating this wonderful state song that will live on and grow with our beautiful Garden State.