Back Home Again in Indiana

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"(Back Home Again in) Indiana"
1917 sheet music cover
PublishedJanuary 1917
Songwriter(s)Ballard MacDonald and James F. Hanley

"(Back Home Again in) Indiana" is a song composed by James F. Hanley with lyrics by Ballard MacDonald that was published in January 1917. Although it is not the state song of Indiana (which is "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away"), it is perhaps the best-known song that pays tribute to the Hoosier state.

An Indiana signature[edit]

The tune was introduced as a Tin Pan Alley pop song of the time. It contains a musical quotation from the already well known "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away", as well as repetition of words from the lyrics: candlelight, moonlight, fields, new-mown hay, sycamores, and the Wabash River.

Since 1946, "Back Home Again in Indiana" has been performed during pre-race ceremonies before the Indianapolis 500. From 1972 to 2014, the song was performed most often by Jim Nabors. He admitted to having the song's lyrics written on his hand during his inaugural performance, and occasionally his versions altered several of the words. The vocals are supported by the Purdue All-American Marching Band. In 2014, Nabors performed the song for the final time after announcing his retirement earlier that year, saying: "You know, there's a time in life when you have to move on. I'll be 84 this year. I just figured it was time ... This is really the highlight of my year to come here. It's very sad for me, but nevertheless there's something inside of me that tells me when it's time to go."[1]

After Nabors retired, the honor of singing the song was done on a rotating basis (which had also been the case prior to Nabors becoming the regular singer) in 2015 and 2016. A cappella group Straight No Chaser performed in 2015 and the Spring 2014 winner of The Voice Josh Kaufman performed in 2016. The Speedway has returned to a standard singer starting in 2017, with Jim Cornelison doing it for three runnings as of the 2019 race.[2]

A jazz standard[edit]

Columbia 78 by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, 1917

In 1917 it was one of the current pop tunes selected by Columbia Records to be recorded by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, who released it as a 78 with "Darktown Strutters' Ball". This lively instrumental version by the ODJB was one of the earliest jazz records issued and sold well. The tune became a jazz standard. For years, Louis Armstrong and his All Stars would open every public performance with the number.

Its chord changes undergird the Miles Davis composition "Donna Lee", one of jazz's best known contrafacts, a composition that lays a new melody over an existing harmonic structure. Lesser known contrafacts of Indiana include Fats Navarro's "Ice Freezes Red"[3] and Lennie Tristano's "Ju-Ju".[4]

In 1934, Joe Young, Jean Schwartz, and Joe Ager wrote "In a Little Red Barn (On a Farm Down in Indiana)", which not only incorporated all the same key words and phrases above, but whose chorus had the same harmonic structure as "Indiana". In this respect it was a contrafact of the latter.

Chord analysis[edit]

Assuming that the 1917 sheet music, published by Shapiro, Bernstein, & Co., Inc.,[5] is an accurate representation of the composer's work, an analysis of the notes gives the following chord changes for the chorus:

  G     E7     A7             D7        G   G7
| / / / /    | / / / /      | / / / / | / / / / |

  C     C#dim7  G              A7        D7
| / / / /     | / / / /      | / / / / | / / / / |

  G     E7      A7             D7    D#dim  Em  Eb7
| / / / /     | / / / /      | / / / /    | / / / / |

  G   B7        Em    C#7sus4  G   D9    G
| / / / /     | / / / /      | / / / / | / / / / ||

Roman numeral analysis of the chorus produces the following:

| I  VI7     | V7/V         | V7       | I  V7/IV   |

| IV #IVdim7 | I           | V7/V      | V7      |

| I  VI7     | V7/V         | V7 #Vdim | vi bVI7 |

| I  V7/vi    | vi #IV7sus4 | I  V9    | I       |

In a later version from the same publishers, the music engraving is the same, but chords and tablature notation were added.[6] Several chords can be observed to have been incorrectly identified. On beat four of measure five, the chord is identified as G dim, but the notes are C# (doubled in the bass), Bb, E. Since there is no G in the music and the doubling of the C# suggests that note as the root, it is a C# dim7 in name (the same notes as a G dim7), and acts as a type of altered IV chord. Since it sits on beat four of a IV chord measure, it is acting as a passing chord to the I chord of measure 2.

Measure 11 of the chorus is notated with an Adim on beat 4, but with a D# doubled in the bass in the sheet music, it is more correctly notated as D#dim. They have the same notes, and this leaves the cord as an altered V chord, with D# as the root, which allows the bass line to move chromatically from D7 up to Em.

Measure 12 of the chorus ends with an Eb7, which agrees with the notes on the page, but it is worth noting as an altered VI chord, carrying the bass line back down 1/2 step to the enharmonic version of the D# used on the way up from D to E.

In the second A section of the chorus, measures 14 and 15 are notated with Em, Edim, G, and D9. Edim would have E G A# (and C# for the full chord), but the notes in the sheet music are C doubled in the left hand, indicating a C root, and B and F# in the right hand. Thus, it cannot be Edim at all. The closest chord with those notes is C#7sus4 (C# F# G# B), which has one added note, the G#. Since the root, 4th and 7th are the defining notes, it would be easy to leave out the fifth, which would be implied in the overtones of the root, anyway. This is a slight variation from the vi II V7 I progression one might expect in a 32 bar song

With the E in the right hand in measure 15, the D chord is a 9th, not a 7th as indicated in the later publication.

Cover versions[edit]

Usage in movies[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Olson, Jeff (25 May 2014). "Jim Nabors performs at Indianapolis 500 one last time". USA TODAY. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  2. ^ Coggan, Devan (24 May 2015). "Watch Straight No Chaser step into Jim Nabors' shoes, sing to kick off the Indy 500". Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  3. ^ Navarro, Fats. "Ice Freezes Red" Archived 2013-12-24 at the Wayback Machine transcribed by Peter Kenagy. Page 12. 2012. Accessed December 22, 2013.
  4. ^ Friedenn, Marv. Sermon on the Flats: The Egalitarian Alternative to Fortune Worship. "Sermon on the Flats" Los Angeles, California, psst Press. Page 108. 2006.
  5. ^ Hanley, James F., MacDonald, Ballard. "Indiana", Indiana State University, Cunningham Memorial Library, Kirk Collection, Terre Haute, 2010. Retrieved on 21 December 2013.
  6. ^ Hanley, James F., MacDonald, Ballard. "Indiana", OC Public Libraries Historical Sheet Music, Cypress, California. Retrieved on 21 December 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Gioia, Ted (2012). The Jazz Standards. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 200–201. ISBN 978-0-19-993739-4.

External links[edit]