It's not "New York, New York."
It's not "My Kind of Town."
It's not "L.A. Is My Lady."
It's not "Country Roads," the West Virginia anthem written in a Georgetown basement.
It's not even the recently controversial "Maryland, My Maryland."
But it may be "This Is My Town," by Mark A. Williams.
Yesterday, Councilwoman Charlene Drew Jarvis introduced a measure to the City Council designating Williams' ditty as the "new official song for the District of Columbia."
Until the bill passes, of course, the official song will continue to be "Washington," which was written in 1951 by the man who would go on to be head Mouseketeer of TV's Mickey Mouse Club -- Jimmie Dodd, who died in 1964 at the age of 54.
Unfortunately, no one down at the District Building yesterday had ever heard "Washington." Jarvis had only heard about it, she said as she got ready to play a tape of the new candidate for anthemhood.
"Songs have been written about the District, but none has become popular," The Washington Post reported presciently 33 years ago, when Dodd wrote "Washington" and won a $1,000 contest with a tune "easy enough for bathtub baritones," according to a Post report at the time. "It compares with 'Oklahoma!' "
So much history has been forgotten along with "Washington." It beat out 3,600 other entries listened to by judges including Howard Mitchell, director of the National Symphony. It was Mitchell who insisted that he would vote for a song that "wouldn't fade away" but would last through "transient fads of jazz or swing or sweet music."
This was not the only city song Dodd wrote, but the others -- "Amarillo," "Meet Me in Monterey" and "Nashville Blues" -- never achieved official, or any other kind, of status, much like Dodd's films: "Corvette K-225," "Janie" and "Sleep My Love." It was Dodd, though, who wrote "The Mickey Mouse March." You know, the one that went, "M-I-C -- see you real soon . . . K-E-Y -- why? Because we like you . . ."
If only Sinatra had recorded "Washington." But he got beaten to it by Sam Jack Kaufman's Capitol Theatre Orchestra, Roy Roberts on vocal.
It might have done for Roy Roberts what "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" did for Tony Bennett, but it all got tangled up in a fight with a lot of schoolteachers.
Dodd's coda went, "When parades pass in review/Down Pennsylvania Avenue/Everybody lifts their voices to the sky." The teachers got upset about "everybody" being singular and "their" being plural and protested enough to get the line changed to "All the people lift their voices to the sky."
This set the stage for the city to adopt something called "Our Nation's Capital" as Washington's official march, 10 years later. Written by two members of the Navy Band, the song was briefly heralded as the city song until someone remembered the city already had one.
Now, according to Jarvis, "Washington" is no longer appropriate to Washington because of its emphasis on the District as the nation's capital "without mention to the people who live here or our rich heritage."
Unfortunately, "the people" get short shrift in Williams' song, as well. Mostly, the people "raise our voices in harmony and sing we're proud to live in D.C." That's it for the local folks. It does say Washington is more than many things, but it never specifies what, though it refers to other songs about Chicago, San Francisco, New York and Georgia. It goes on to mention "monumental grounds and people who come to visit . . . embassies and parks and museums full of art."
Jarvis played the demo of "This Is My Town" in her office and it proved to be bright and bouncy enough, with a terse Count Basie finale.
Clink clink clink.
It was recorded in California and it is better than the D.C. Lottery theme -- much better -- but, truth be told, it's not as good as the United Way campaign or Maryland state lottery themes. This time around, the only judge of a Washington anthem was Jarvis. But now she has to persuade the City Council that "This Is My Town" is good enough to replace the city's anthem for a third of a century.
For Williams, who is executive director of Freedom Through Choices, a program for foster care adolescents in the District, it is the first song he's had recorded -- by Kenny James, of the Hughes Corp. When the record is made and sold -- through the Visitors Bureau and Convention Center and wherever else it can be placed -- some of the money will go back into Freedom Through Choices.