State motto, song could use update

By Ned Cantwell: State Columnist

Former KOAT-TV reporter Nancy Laflin has been the New Mexico State music czar for three months now and it is a bit disappointing. I still can’t play the violin.

Too bad. The brand new director of the brand new created by executive order New Mexico Music Commission will conduct the first talent showcase at Expo New Mexico in September.

What I think Nancy needs to do is replace our moribund state song, “O, Fair New Mexico.”

“Under a sky of azure, Where balmy breezes blow, Kissed by the golden sunshine, Is Nuevo Mexico.” Now, there’s a real toe-tapper.

Hoyle Osborn of Farmington said my column on the state song inspired him to apply for appointment to the Music Commission. That is somewhat of a personal victory in that it is the first recorded instance in history of the column inspiring anyone to do anything, with the possible exception of cussing.

Hoyle’s e-mail and others who wrote illuminate the issue for me. We have three state songs. Margaret Blewett of Los Alamos says “Asi es Nuevo Mejico” was adopted as the official Spanish State Song by the Legislature in 1971, and “New Mexico, Mi Lindo Nuevo Mexico,” was designated the Bilingual State Song in 1983.

Ted Karas of Carlsbad reminds us that two years ago state lawmakers attempted to pass a memorial designating “Song of New Mexico,” by James Hobbs of Ruidoso. James and his musical gang perform at the popular Flying J Chuckwagon in the mountain resort, so you can bet his composition is of a lively sort.

Norvil Howell of Clovis told me something I did not know. “O, Fair New Mexico” composer Elizabeth Garrett was the daughter of famous New Mexico lawman Pat Garrett.

No offense to Elizabeth, but we need to move on. Music boss Laflin says that while she does not want to replace our song, she is looking for an additional “theme” song to be used to promote the state.

Meanwhile, there has also been grumbling in this space that the Official State Song, while dull, is creative genius compared to the Official State Motto. Say we, in Latin, “Crescit eundo.” That means “It grows as it goes.” Indeed.

We promised in an earlier column to share with the appropriate state officials your ideas for a new state slogan. Here are a few:

Deming was particularly interested in the topic. Don, who wishes to remain anonymous, offers “The State That Means Well,” and “Dare to be Mediocre.” Phil Insko suggests, for the people, “Non Illegitimati Carborundum.” We’ll take his word that the translation is “Don’t Let the … Wear You Down.” For the Legislature, Phil offers this motto: “When in charge, ponder; when in trouble, delegate; when in doubt, mumble.”

A Carlsbad reader takes the aggressive approach: “We’re messin’ with Texas!”

From Farmington’s Nancy Coats came several suggestions that actually made sense. The one I liked was “New Mexico — from an ancient past to a bright new future.” Anyone up to translating that into Latin?

Turns out what Gov. Bill Richardson is willing to pay big bucks for is a state marketing theme, such as “Virginia is for Lovers,” or “Texas. It’s like a whole other country.” (That’s for dang sure true.)

How about this: “New Mexico. Life in the slow lane.”

Don’t bother sending the check, guv. I’ll swing by the mansion.

Ned Cantwell is a syndicated New Mexico columnist. He welcomes response at: ncantwell@charter.net