BACK WHEN I WAS A KID, there were five big state symbols. Everyone knew them; they didn’t change. They were: the state flower (bluebonnet), tree (pecan), bird (mockingbird), motto (“Friendship”), and song (“Texas, Our Texas”). But nowadays, state symbols are proliferating sneakily, like coat hangers in the closet or twist ties in the kitchen drawer. There are currently 41 officially sanctioned Texas symbols; in last spring’s legislative session we acquired not one but two state pastries—the sopaipilla and the strudel—as well as an official snack, tortilla chips and salsa. Other icon-come-latelys include the state vegetable (sweet onion), flying mammal (Mexican free-tailed bat), seashell (lightning whelk), and dinosaur (Carole Keeton Strayhorn … ha-ha. Actually, it’s the Pleurocoelus).
But all these silly emblems are just my subgripe. One of our most venerable icons is a mess, and—before we start piling up more state thises and state thats—I say let’s fix what’s broken. I am referring, of course, to “Texas, Our Texas.” As anyone of discernment and taste will agree, it is a sorry song. When is the last time you sang it—if, indeed, you ever have—and do you even remember the lyrics? Has anyone performed it at any function, public or private, since Preston Smith was governor? (I can imagine few things less likely today than a gymful of fans intoning “Texas, Our Texas” before tip-off; in fact, the last time I remember a crowd singing it was the high school graduation scene in The Last Picture Show.)
Never mind school finance and health care. Our legislators should get to work fixing our state song. I’ve disliked it ever since Mrs. Lane, the music teacher at Sam Houston Elementary in Pampa, banged it out on the