“Roadrunner” up for “Official” Status: Get the Info You Didn’t Even Know You Needed

Chances are you are aware of the effort to have the State Legislature designate “Roadrunner” as the official rock song of the Commonwealth. As the Globe informs us, “Roadrunner,” first recorded by the band Modern Lovers in the early 1970’s, is an “unabashed musical valentine to Massachusetts,” and State Rep. Marty Walsh of Boston has filed a bill to enshrine it among the state’s official things.

If this is all new to you, you’re probably not paying enough attention. However, we are not here to criticize, but to help. Here are your talking points about the state’s official things – these will come in handy to impress people at parties, where Roadrunner’s bid is likely to be a topic of conversation.

Q. How many official state things are there, and what does the list include?
A. At present, there are 53 official state things. Some of them you could guess: official fish (Cod), official bean (Baked Navy Bean), official berry (Cranberry). Others are somewhat less obvious: our official cat is the Tabby and our official reptile is the Garter Snake.

Q. How many of our 53 state things are musical?
A. Quite a lot — seven to be exact. We have an official song (All Hail to Massachusetts), an official folk song (Massachusetts), an official polka (Say Hello to Someone in Massachusetts), an official Glee Club Song (The Great State of Massachusetts), an official patriotic song (Massachusetts — Because of You Our Land Is Free), a ceremonial march (The Road to Boston), and an official ode (Ode to Massachusetts).

Q. Is it hard to get a thing designated as an official thing?
A. It’s definitely not a shoo-in. Some recent misses include the Quahog, which lost a bid to become the official shellfish, the Red-Bellied Cooter, which is still waiting to be dubbed official turtle, and Rex Trailer, who missed out last session in an effort to be named Official Cowboy. Rex, who left us in January, is on the ballot again this year, and many feel that his chances have been improved considerably by his passing.

Q. Besides “Roadrunner” and Rex Trailer, what other things are up for consideration this time?
A. The Fluffernutter is bidding to become the official sandwich, Ms. G. of the Massachusetts Audubon Society would like to be named official groundhog, Cyrus E. Dallin is hoping to earn the honor of official sculptor, and Gingham has put in a bid to be the official textile.

Q. Is there a limit to how many things can be made official things in any one legislative session?
A. No – that’s the beauty part, they all could win. So fans of “Roadrunner” (and Fluffernutter, Rex Trailer, Ms. G, Cyrus E. Dallin and Gingham): start your engines.

3 thoughts on ““Roadrunner” up for “Official” Status: Get the Info You Didn’t Even Know You Needed

  1. Though we have very happy memories of driving faster miles an hour with the radio on back in the day, Jonathan Richman, who led the Modern Lovers and wrote the song, responded to the news by saying: ‘“Thank you so much, it’s very flattering . . . but I don’t think the song is good enough to be a Massachusetts song of any kind.’” He apparently has not heard the other 7 state songs.

  2. Good point, Sharpy60! I have heard a rumor that there’s a Ska cover of “Massachusetts – Because of You Our Land is Free” that has an absolutely hypnotic rhythm. But I’m not buying it.

  3. I heard State Senator Bob Hedlund on public radio on Friday saying how upset he was that Representative Walsh filed the bill to make “Roadrunner” an official state song — because HE wanted to lead on this critical issue of state public policy. Do we really pay state legislators to spend time on this stuff?

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