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"Go, Mississippi" was written and composed by William Houston Davis (1914–1987) and copyrighted in 1962.[i] The copyright was assigned in 1962 to the Jackson Board of Realtors, who recommended it to the Legislature.
It was adopted as the official state song by House Concurrent Resolution 67 on May 16, 1962, during the Regular Session as General Laws of Mississippi of 1962, Chapter 654. The Mississippi Legislature had selected it from two compositions, the other being "Mississippi, U.S.A." (© 1960),[ii] also composed by Houston Davis. The House members met with the Senate in a joint session to listen to both compositions performed by a professional dance orchestra with the composer on drums and the Hinds Junior College Hi-Steppers dancing. The band then swung into a chorus of "Dixie" and, according to the UPI, everyone rose.
The song was enthusiastically received in front of 41,000 fans at a formal dedication September 29, 1962, by Governor Barnett in Oxford, as performed by the Ole Miss Marching Band during a halftime of an Ole Miss–Kentucky football game.
"Go Mississippi" is the same melody as "Roll with Ross," which Houston Davis[iii] composed under a commission by Ross Barnett (1898–1987) for use as a 1959 campaign theme song for governor. The lyrics of "Roll with Ross" include the words:
|“||Roll with Ross, roll with Ross, he's his own boss
For segregation, one hundred percent
He's not a moderate like some of the gents
He'll fight integration with forceful intent.
|— Lyrics to "Roll with Ross" (© 1959)|
The same melody as "Go, Mississippi" (© 1962)
The halftime was promoted,[Note 1] and is chronicled, as having been an anti-integration rally, led by Barnett, the day before the Ole Miss riot over the admission of an African American, James Meredith. The riot was not directly connected to the revised song, but its commission by the Governor — who was leading an official resistance to Federally mandated integration for Ole Miss — clouded the song's heritage. Governor Barnett had prevailed as an enthusiastic advocate for adopting his own campaign song as the official Mississippi State Anthem.
Proposals to change
There have been proposals to adopt other songs for various reasons, namely because of the current song's direct connection to a staunch segregationist holdout.
In 1976, Bill Alexander (né William Brooks Alexander, Jr.; 1921–2006), State Senator from 1960 to 1983, introduced a Senate Resolution to set-up a special committee of experts to receive compositions for consideration as a new official state song, including one titled "Mississippi" by William Shirley Haynie (1918–2003). In 1994, Charlie Pride, whose identity as a performing artist is linked closely with Mississippi culture, publicly expressed support of a group wanting to change it.
In 2000, State Senator William Gardner Hewes introduced Senate Bill 2960 to replace the state song with "Mississippi" by Edward Owen Miller. However, the bill died in committee.[a] In 2003, State Senator Delma Furniss introduced Senate Bill 2217 to adopt "My Home Mississippi," by Delma Furniss, as the official state song. The bill died in committee.[b] In 2011, songwriters Carolyn Sue Woods of Amory and John Riggs of Nashville led a concerted campaign promoting "I Miss Mississippi" as a new state song for Mississippi. In 2015, State Senator Robert L. Jackson, introduced 2 Senate Bills:
- SB2177 to authorize two official state songs, keeping the existing song, "Go, Mississippi," and adding "My Home Mississippi"[c]
- SB2178 to adopt "My Home Mississippi" as the official state song[d]
Both bills died in committee February 3, 2015.
States may sing their songs of praise
With waving flags and hip-hoo-rays,
Let cymbals crash and let bells ring
'Cause here's one song I'm proud to sing.
GO, MIS-SIS-SIP-PI, keep rolling along,
GO, MIS-SIS-SIP-PI, you cannot go wrong,
Go, Mississippi, we're singing your song,
M-I-S, S-I-S, S-I-P-P-I.
GO, MIS-SIS-SIP-PI, you're on the right track,
GO, MIS-SIS-SIP-PI, and this is a fact,
GO, MIS-SIS-SIP-PI, you'll never look back,
M-I-S, S-I-S, S-I-P-P-I.
GO, MIS-SIS-SIP-PI, straight down the line,
GO, MIS-SIS-SIP-PI, ev'rything's fine,
GO, MIS-SIS-SIP-PI, it's your state and mine,
M-I-S, S-I-S, S-I-P-P-I.
GO, MIS-SIS-SIP-PI, continue to roll,
GO, MIS-SIS-SIP-PI, the top is the goal,
GO, MIS-SIS-SIP-PI, you'll have and you'll hold,
M-I-S, S-I-S, S-I-P-P-I.
GO, MIS-SIS-SIP-PI, get up and go,
GO, MIS-SIS-SIP-PI, let the world know,
That our Mississippi is leading the show,
M-I-S, S-I-S, S-I-P-P-I.
- "Go, Mississippi" (© 1962)
- "Go, Mississippi" (© 1961)
Delta Recording Corp. recorded the original version of "Go, Mississippi" at its studio in Jackson, Mississippi, at 1653 Raymond Road. The label, which had an office in New York City in the early 1950s at 236 West 55th Street (Midtown Manhattan), was founded by Jim Bulleit (né James Albert Bulleit; 1908–1988) and Jimmie Ammons (né James Douglas Ammons; 1919–2001). Ammons's main occupation was that of a machinist in Jackson, Mississippi. Delta was noted for its custom recording work, which included recording weddings, church choirs, and college choirs. Delta also produced recordings for the foreign language department of Ole Miss. Moreover, Delta produced a multitude of jingles for numerous radio stations. Delta recorded radio stations all over Mississippi for ASCAP. When Mississippi was searching for a state song, the Delta Recording Studio reportedly recorded all the state university bands in search of the song that would truly be representative of the state.
- Original recording
- Delta Records 133 (45 rpm) (released 1962)
- Governor Ross R. Barnett Campaign Souvenir: 1959 Campaign Songs
- Jerry Lane Orchestra, Maurice Thompson Singers ₳
- Houston Davis Productions, Inc.
- OCLC 874137334
- 133-657: Side 1
- † The copyright for "Little Carrol's Last Stand" was previously registered as "The Battle of New Orleans." "Little Carrol's Last Stand" was a political campaign attack song commissioned in 1959 by Ross Barnett, the prevailing 1960 gubernatorial candidate against Lieutenant Governor Carroll Gartin.
- ‡ Jerry Lane was a dance band leader and trombonist from Jackson, Mississippi. Former band members include Tom "Bone" Malone.
- Robert Carson (1989). America the beautiful. Mississippi. Chicago: Children's Press. ISBN 978-0-516-00470-9., OCLC 17875665
- On September 28, 1962 — a day before the football game — the Jackson Daily News published the words and music to the song "Never, No, Never," by Tom Spengler, an advertising account executive, and Houston Davis. The sheet music ran in place of the usual cartoon on the editorial page and an editorial stated that the song expertly put the state's attitude to music and suggested that readers clip it for a possible mass rendition at the next day's football game. The song, an ode to segregation, declared that, at Ole Miss, "Never, never, never, shall our emblem go from Colonel Reb to Ole Black Joe." (Catsam 2009)
- Vol. 16, Part 5, No. 2, July–December 1962 (1963), pg. 1199, "MIS-SIS-SIP-PI," Houston Davis (w&m); © 17 September 1962, Jackson Board of Realtors; EP167366
- Vol. 14, Part 5, No. 1, January–June 1960 (1960), pg. 289, "Mississippi U.S.A.," Houston Davis (w&m); © 7 March 1960, Houston Davis; EU615600
- Vol. 13, Part 5, No. 1, January–June 1959 (1960), pg. 453, "Roll With Ross; He's His Own Boss," Houston Davis (w&m); © 27 February 1959, Ross R. Barnett; EU564630
- Vol. 13, Part 5, No. 2, July–December 1959 (1960), pg. 1397, "Little Carrol's Last Stand," Houston Davis (w&m); © 12 August 1959, W.H. Davis; EU589029
- ASCAP Biographical Dictionary (4th ed.), compiled for the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, by Jaques Cattell Press, R.R. Bowker (1980), pg. 114; OCLC 7065938, 516213921
- State Songs of the United States: An Annotated Anthology, by William Emmett Studwell & Bruce R. Schueneman, Haworth Press (1997), pg. 47; OCLC 50763390
- "General Information: State Symbols," Mississippi Blue Book, 2012–2016 Secretary of State of Mississippi, pps. 54–55 (retrieved March 23, 2016)
- State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols, by Benjamin F Shearer & Barbara Smith Shearer, Greenwood Press (2002), pg. 150; OCLC 46321058, ISBN 0-313-31534-5
- "Solons Whoop It Up Then Choose New State Song," Delta Democrat-Times (Greenville, Mississippi) (UPI), May 17, 1962, pg. 2 (retrieved May 25, 2016, via www
.newspapers .com /image /24031662)
- "Crowd Hails Barnett," Philadelphia Inquirer, September 30, 1962
- "The Black Man Who Was Crazy Enough to Apply to Ole Miss," by Nick Bryant," The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, No. 53, Autumn 2006, pps. 60–71, 31 (retrieved May 25, 2016, via JSTOR; www
.jstor .org /stable /25073538)
- Dixie: A Personal Odyssey Through Events That Shaped the Modern South, by Curtis Wilkie, Touchstone Books (2002), pps. 104–105; OCLC 51214164
- Sez, Col Reb (2012-12-10). "ColRebSez: If states can't choose their own license plates, then there may be no right to choose state songs, either". ColRebSez. Retrieved 2017-10-11.
- The Price of Defiance: James Meredith and the Integration of Ole Miss, by Charles W. Eagles, University of North Carolina Press (2009), pg. 333; OCLC 794003562
- "'Sic 'Em, White Folks!': Football, Massive Resistance, and the Integration of Ole Miss," by Derek Charles Catsam, PhD, Sport History Review, Human Kinetics (publisher) 40, No. 1 (2009), pg. 84 (article is from 82 to 98); ISSN 1087-1659; OCLC 423202727
- "New State Song Sought," Delta Democrat-Times (Greenville, Mississippi), April 28, 1976 (retrieved May 25, 2016, via www
.newspapers .com /image /22787699)
- "State Takes Pride," Des Moines Register, February 8, 1994, 2A
- "Some Legistlators Urge New Mississippi Song," Daily Herald, February 4, 2000, Sec. 1A, pg. 2
- "Duo Promotes Potential New State Song," by Jan Swoope, The Columbus Dispatch, June 3, 2011
- Lyrics in the official website of the State of Mississippi Archived 2013-08-22 at the Wayback Machine
- Jimmie Ammons and the Delta Label," by David Evans, Blues Unlimited, No. 42, March/April 1967, pg. 6
- Jimmy Ammons and the Delta Label," by Kerry Kudlacek, Blues Unlimited, No. 48 November/December 1967, pps. 13–14
- "Trumpet Records: An Illustrated History, With Discography," by Mark Ryan, Big Nickel Publications (1992); OCLC 30320566
- "Jimmie Ammons & Delta Records," by Don Pittman (Jackson, Mississippi), Rockabilly Hall of Fame (www
.rockabillyhall .com), September 20, 1999 (retrieved may 24, 2016)
- "1959 Campaign Songs: Governor Ross R. Barnett Campaign," (45 rpm records), Wm. Clyde Stewart Collection 1959–2007, Ole Miss Special Collections OCLC 875933309
- "Meet Tom Malone, USM's Homegrown Trombone-Blowin' Original Soul Man," by Dana Gower, Southern Magazine, Summer 2013, pps 33-35; OCLC 928726027
Mississippi Legislature citations
- Senate Bill 2960 (2000):
- Senate Bill 2217 (2003):"An Act To Adopt New Official State Song; 'My Home Mississippi,'" sponsored by State Senator Delma Furniss, Mississippi State Senate
- Senate Bill 2177 (2015):"An Act To Authorize Two Official State Songs, Keeping The Existing Song, 'Go, Mississippi,' And Adding 'My Home Mississippi,'" sponsored by State Senator Robert L. Jackson, Mississippi State Senate
- Senate Bill 2178 (2015):"An Act to adopt 'My Home Mississippi' As The Official State Song," sponsored by State Senator Robert L. Jackson, Mississippi State Senate