A patron asked me several years ago about a song written by a local resident for consideration as the State anthem. I researched this and found out that local composer Arden Clar had collaborated with well-known historical author and resident Anya Seton in writing the "Song of Connecticut".
Arden Clar was born in Baltimore MD in 1915. He attended the Catholic University in Washington DC. Clar received a BA in Music. He and his wife Fritzi lived in Old Greenwich for 20 years. They lived at 54 Laddins Rock Road with their four children - two daughters and two sons. Clar was the Musical Director for Harry Richman (star of screen and stage). He taught music on the side, and played background piano music at The Town House Restaurant on Greenwich Avenue and Jack Daniels Restaurant on Putnam Avenue. His musical compositions included "Symphony in E", "Port of Spain", "Jade", "Voodoo Albums" "and "Rhapsody for Trina". He even wrote a composition titled "Pickwick Park" to support a group trying to preserve the Pickwick Arms Hotel. There were rumors that a group wanted to knock down the hotel to build a new business complex!
In the early 1970s, he worked with Anya Seton to compose a new song for the State. All of the other New England states had a State anthem except Connecticut. Connecticut had a State tree (White Oak), a State bird (American Robin) and a State flower (Mountain Laurel), but no State anthem. He wrote the melody, while Anya Seton wrote the lyrics. Here's the song:
THE SONG OF CONNECTICUT
They have come from many a race and creed,
The dwellers in this lovely land
Finding freedom, and our motto heed,
"Transplanted, yet withstand".
Our State, the Gateway of all New England,
We wish to keep you fair.
Your hills, the rivers, towns and greens,
Near the Sound's fresh salty air.
Emblems of laurel, robin and nutmeg, too
Oh, our State, a center of Yankee gumption,
Here's to you, Connecticut,
Here's to you.
Clar lobbied local politicians and civic groups to push for the adoption of his song. He received the backing of such notable citizens as Rep. Dorothy Osler, Rep. Emil Benvenuto, Rep. Stewart McKinney, and Sen. Lowell Weicker, Jr. Greenwich Library Director Nolan Lushington even wrote the State supporting its adoption. Sen. William Strada of Stamford intorduced a bill in 1975 to make "Song of Connecticut" the State song. It was referred to the Government and Administration Committee, which tabled discussion on the song to focus on the fiscal crisis. In 1977, Sen. Strada refiled the bill. It was referred to the General Law Committee. The State then decided to solicit suggestions and received hundreds of replies. House Majority Leader William O'Neil pushed for "Yankee Doodle" and Governor Ella Grasso signed the bill naming "Yankee Doodle" the State song. Despite the fact that Arden Clar and Anya Seton had written this song especially for the Connecticut, their submission was passed over.
Clar pointed out that "Yankee Doodle" was in no way unique to Connecticut. Nowhere does it refer to the State, nor does it honor its history. In fact, the song was written so the British could taunt the ragtag Colonial Militia during the Revolutionary War. On the other hand, Clar's song mentions the state's origin, official bird, official flower and provides a translation of the State motto. The song can be played in many tempos as a march, hymn, choral number, dance band tune and even rock and roll! It's been performed all over the state on many occasions by high school bands, the US Coast Guard Band, the American Legion Drum Corps, St. Mary's Glee Club and Grace Notes. It emphasizes the beauty and heritage of the State. With its wide exposure and musical flexibility, it seemed like the ideal song for Connecticut.
Even after his song was turned down, Clar continued to promote the song by distributing bumper stickers and featuring it on a commercial for pianos.
He pushed to have it performed by as many musical groups as possible. Others tried to help out by featuring the "Song of Connecticut". Arden
believed it was only a matter of time before his song was adopted. Unfortunately, he died in 1980 without realizing his dream.
Although there are certainly more pressing issues to be addressed by the State Legislature at this time, it would be a tribute to Arden Clar
and Anya Seton if the State adopted the "Song of Connecticut" as its official anthem.
Greenwich Time (Hearst Corporation); Aug. 29, 1975; Feb. 24,1977; May 1978
The Hartford Courant (Tribune Newspapers); Jan. 14, 1979
Special thanks to Stephen Rice at the Connecticut State Library.