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Monday, July 28, 2014

Blessed from heaven above, it's the land that we love

Last week my home state celebrated Pioneer Day, the anniversary of the Mormon pioneers arriving in the Salt Lake valley and beginning the settlement of the intermountain west. Some Utahns celebrate it by going to the parade, some Utahns celebrate it by going to the pool, and some Utahns celebrate it by drinking beer and eating pie (Pioneer Day = PieNBeer Day, get it?)

I like a little combination of those things. I spent the morning at the community pool, helped bake a couple of pies (paprika peach and blueberry-nectarine), and then I want to my friend Roger's house for a BBQ. Roger throws the best patriotic BBQs because he lives next door to some meth heads who build their own fireworks. It can make for some beautiful, awe-inspiring, totally terrifying entertainment.

After grilling, we all walked over to Liberty Park to watch the city-sponsored fireworks, and is our wont, Diego and I began singing, "Utah: This Is The Place." The official state song of the state of Utah.

The thing about the Utah state song is that it is terrible. Definitively, objectively, completely terrible. With lines like, "Utah, what a great place to be!" (seriously), it is definitely no "Deep In The Heart of Texas." But as children of the 80s, Diego and I were both in elementary school during the Utah Statehood Centennial, which meant we were in Centennial Pageants, which meant we learned the song.

At my elementary school, we spent a good month preparing for the pageant, which celebrated Utah through the decades of statehood. I performed a modified foxtrot to "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" and pranced around aimlessly with a neon streamer to Kool and the Gang's "Celebrate." And yes, I was pissed, because I wanted to be put in the 1950s swing section of the pageant and be flung around like the girls whose parents put them in gymnastics and ballet as toddlers, but alas, I was a terribly uncoordinated 12-year-old and could only be trusted with the simplest of athletic feats. ARE YOU SHOCKED?

At the end of the pageant, we all sang "Utah: This Is The Place" as our parents glanced at each other, like, "This is really the state song? Like ... really?"

I am convinced, based solely on the number of friends who are roughly my age who all remember the lyrics, and the unadulterated confusion that crosses the face of anyone younger than 27ish and older then 31ish when they hear lines like, "New technology's here, growing faster each year!" that Centennial Pageants were made mandatory statewide in 1996, and then no one ever heard the state song again.

So Diego and I were sitting on the grass, belting out gems like, "Utah! With it's focus on family!" and all around us, late-twenty-and-early-thirty-somethings were joining in, like, "Yes! I remember!" But older people glared at us, as if we were making fun of Utah, WHEN IN FACT WE WERE THE ONLY ONES WHO KNEW THE WORDS TO OUR OWN STATE SONG.

Normally, I strongly frown on people who sing in public, particularly those who are good. For some reason, a good singer singing in public is so much more cringey than a bad singer. Don't ask me to explain it, it's just science.

However, there is and always will be an exception for anyone who knows the words to "Utah: This Is the Place." That, you should belt out loud and proud, and then let me know if your elementary school mandated costumes for your pageant or not. (We all wore plain white tees so they could cut the lights and then project colorful pictures of Utah state scenery on us, which I am positive would not really work, what about you?)

And now, in honor of Pioneer Day, I leave you with the lyrics to the Utah state song.

Yes, these really are the lyrics.

Utah! People working together
Utah! What a great place to be.
Blessed from Heaven above.
It's the land that we love.
This is the place!

Utah! With its mountains and valleys.
Utah! With its canyons and streams.
You can go anywhere.
But there's none that compare.
This is the place!

(The key change is a little tricky here. You also slow it down a titch.)

It was Brigham Young who led the pioneers across the plains.
They suffered with the trials they had to face.
With faith they kept on going till they reached the Great Salt Lake
Here they heard the words..."THIS IS THE PLACE!"

(In case you were wondering, yes, you yell THIS IS THE PLACE! And then you switch back to the original key and pep it up again.)

Utah! With its focus on family,
Utah! Helps each child to succeed.
People care how they live.
Each has so much to give.
This is the place!

Utah! Getting bigger and better.
Utah! Always leading the way.
New technology's here...
Growing faster each year.
This is the place!

(Second key change) 
There is beauty in the snow-capped mountains, in the lakes and streams.
There are valleys filled with farms and orchards too.
The spirit of its people shows in everything they do.
Utah is the place where dreams come true.

(Based on the fact that these are official lyrics, and "where dreams come true" is not in all-caps, I don't think you're supposed to yell that part. But oh, we definitely yelled it back in sixth grade.)

Utah! With its pioneer spirit.
Utah! What a great legacy!
Blessed from Heaven above.
It's the land that we love.
This is the place

Utah! Utah! Utah! (get progressively higher and shriller here)
THIS IS THE PLACE!

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