All true Tar Heels know that our state song is William Gaston’s “The Old North State,” adopted as the official song by the state legislature in 1927.
So we were surprised to see another song staking the claim. Bettie Freshwater Pool’s Literature in the Albemarle (published by Ms. Pool in Elizabeth City, 1915) includes the poem “Carolina,” labeled as “(State Song).” It begins:
I love thee Carolina!
Broad thy rivers, bright and clear;
Majestic are thy mountains;
Dense thy forests, dark and drear;
Grows the pine tree, tall and stately;
Weeps the willow, drooping low;
Bloom the eglantine and jasmine;
Nods the daisy, white as snow.
Then the chorus:
Let me live in Carolina
Till life’s toil and strife are past!
Let me sleep in Carolina
When my sun shall set at last!
Where the mocking bird is singing–
Where my heart is fondly clinging.
I would sleep when life is o’er
Sweetly on the old home shore.
The closing lines proclaim that the “Brightest star of all the Union / Is the glorious Old North State.” Perhaps this was an unofficial state anthem before Gaston’s got the nod? We think the only way to settle this is with a head-to-head matchup, just like on American Idol. Let the people decide.