December 21, 2013

Local music teaches Maine culture, history, pride

Rome songwriter Stan Keach weaves a narrative of the state’s culture and history with his music.

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling
Staff Writer

Choral directors say teaching local students songs about Maine have different types of educational value.

The music of Stan Keach captures Maine’s culture of local pride and its accent in “Boots from L.L. Bean.”

So you’ve been to Moody’s Dinah, and Letourneau’s Auto Pahts,

And most every majah landmahk in-between,

And though you’re from away, you fit in most any day,

When you’re wearin’ your new boots from L.L. Bean

You know what I mean! Boots from L.L. Bean!

They go awful good with black, red, or green.

And you look more like a Mainah than any outa-statah,

In your chamois shirt and boots from L.L. Bean.

Keach’s songs are a series of narrative snapshots of Maine’s history. He has written about the Brady gang shootout in Bangor in 1937; Donn Fendler, the boy who survived in the wilderness after being lost on Mount Katahdin in 1939; and Christopher Knight, the so-called North Pond Hermit, who lived in solitude in the woods for 27 years, a short distance from Keach’s home.

“We don’t want to lose our cultural connections,” Keach said.

In the Fendler song, Keach touches on geographical details as he recounts a story from Maine’s history.

The year was 1939, the day was wet and cold.

Donn Fendler stood on Baxter Peak, a boy just 12 years old.

The Plumes of Pamola were closing in around

Erasing the trail blazes – white patches on the ground.

Oh, nine days of loneliness, Oh, nine days of pain.

Donn Fendler’s gone and lost himself on a mountain up in Maine.

Sometimes, local music can boost state pride and unity, as is the case with the official state song, “The State of Maine Song,” which is posted on the secretary of state’s website. The song, written by lawyer Roger Vinton Snow, was adopted by the Legislature in 1939.

Grand State of Maine,

proudly we sing

To tell your glories to the land,

To shout your praises till the echoes ring.

Should fate unkind

send us to roam,

The scent of the fragrant pines,

the tang of the salty sea

Will call us home.

Oh, Pine Tree State,

Your woods, fields and hills,

Your lakes, streams and rock bound coast

Will ever fill our hearts with thrills,

And tho’ we seek far and wide

Our search will be in vain,

To find a fairer spot on earth

Than Maine! Maine! Maine!

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287 Twitter: @hh_matt
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