In a panel reserved for only the most extremely important political decision-making, the Massachusetts Statehouse is currently mulling over what should be the official “State Rock Song.” Yesterday, the Joint Committee on State Administration held a public hearing on the issue because — like affordable housing and employment opportunities — an officially determined rock song is something every state needs. The contenders: “Dream On” by Aerosmith and “Roadrunner” by the Modern Lovers. Here, we aid the pols in their heavy choice by grading each song in some important categories.
“Dream On” — With lines like “all these lines in my face gettin’ clearer” and “maybe tomorrow the good Lord will take you away,” I’m feeling more depressed about my age and the fragility of human life than jazzed about my Bay State roots. But besides that, the song doesn’t mention Massachusetts once. Nothing remotely New England-centric even comes up. Basically, this song is about how life sucks and you should dream about having a better one until it actually happens, which could really be said about any state. Especially New Jersey. And Bruce Springsteen has that one covered. Grade: C
“Roadrunner” — Tell me, what is more Massachusetts than Stop & Shop? Nothing! Shaws, maybe, but that’s it. We’ve all made a journey on “128 when it’s dark outside” at one point in our lives. (And usually, it’s a parking lot, amiright?) This song comes right out and says, “I’m in love with Massachusetts.” What more do you need? Grade: A+
Ties to the Commonwealth
Aerosmith — Sometimes called “The Bad Boys of Boston” (…OK), they didn’t move into their legendary apartment at 1325 Commonwealth Ave. until October 1970, only two years before their first record deal. Some of the members grew up here, but frontman Steven Tyler was born in New York. (At least, that’s what Wikipedia says. I hope no die-hard fans hunt me down later.) The band gains some points for playing a show right outside their old apartment last year. Rerouting the MBTA for half a day? That’s when you know you’ve made it. Grade: B
The Modern Lovers — Frontman Jonathan Richman was born and raised in Natick. He spent a brief stint in New York to try to make it as a musician before returning to Boston, where he did find fame. Fun fan fact: He played the musical narrator in the film “There’s Something About Mary,” which took place in Cumberland, R.I. (For those of you unfamiliar with Rhode Island, it’s basically a small extension of Massachusetts.) Although Richman has the right background, he always had trouble sticking around, leaving us for both California and Maine. Grade: B
“Dream On” — Perhaps the biggest supporters are the two state representatives who filed a bill in support of the song. One of them even said he “can’t think of a better song to represent the state.” Them and the billions of fans around the world, I guess. Grade: A
“Roadrunner” — Marty Walsh filed the bill and then we elected him as Boston’s new mayor, so that’s a good sign. The Modern Lovers have a smaller following than the Aerosmith legacy. Also, Richman himself doesn’t believe his song should win. In response to the bill, he was quoted saying: “I don’t think the song is good enough to be a Massachusetts song of any kind.” At least he’s humble. Grade: B
After scientifically calculating the grades, I officially endorse “Roadrunner.” As a big fan of the Modern Lovers and someone who rolls their eyes to most classic rock, perhaps my grading was a little biased. We’ll have to leave it in the hands of the lawmakers.
Early results from yesterday’s hearing also show “Roadrunner” as a favorite, although the end result was unclear and indecisive. Maybe Massachusetts isn’t ready for an official state rock song. Or considering all of the great local bands in our city right now, maybe it just hasn’t been written yet.