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   Dream On vs. Radio On: Massachusetts has a very Massachusetts fight over its official state rock song.

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News Date

3/5/2013 8:00 pm

Author

Jack Hamilton

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News

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Entered 3/5/2013, Updated 3/5/2013

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The new controversy that’s tearing apart the Bay State, namely the fight over the Commonwealth’s official state rock song. In the past three weeks, competing bills have been put before the state legislature, and, at the time of this writing, there’s no resolution in sight. In one corner is the Modern Lovers’ “Roadrunner,” beneficiary of a months-long grass-roots effort by Boston music maven and activist Joyce Linehan (who was herself inspired by a 2007 essay about the song in the Guardian) and state representative Marty Walsh. In the other is Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” the hard-charging late-comer backed by representatives Josh Cutler and James Cantwell (in true Massachusetts form, all of these people are Democrats). At first glance it’s an argument over two irreconcilable ideals of rock music and rock fandom, one that’s raised the hackles of everyone from the Boston Globe to Gawker to the BBC. Other states have named state rock songs—Ohio, Oklahoma, Washington—and have done so without drawing international attention. But Massachusetts has never minded attention, and something about this fight is distinctly of the Commonwealth, its every insecurity writ large, or hilariously small. Aside from the coincidence of both songs being recorded in 1972 (the same year Massachusetts became the only state carried by George McGovern, as its residents will still remind you), on the surface “Roadrunner” and “Dream On” couldn’t be less alike, nor could the people who love them. The Modern Lovers represent music you discover by reading magazines without pictures and bragging about not owning a television; Aerosmith represents music you discover by hanging around Patriots tailgates and the credits of Michael Bay films. In Massachusetts these two caricatures often share the same ZIP codes, tirelessly shadowboxing in each other’s imaginations.


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