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What Is the State Song of Kansas?

By B. Chisholm
Updated May 17, 2024
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The state song of Kansas is "Home on the Range." The words were originally written as a poem by Dr Brewster Higley, a physician, and the music was written by the fiddler, Dan Kelley. The current version of the song differs slightly from his original poem, written in the 1870's in Kansas, after going through various rewrites since its first composition. His poem, at writing, was called My Western Home.

State symbols, from songs to flags to animals and birds, play a big role in keeping morale high and encouraging patriotism and the state song of Kansas meets these requirements well. The song waxes lyrical about the beautiful countryside, fresh air, vast spaces and animals, for which Kansas is well known. After the song took off, many adaptations were made to it to suit other states, such as "My Colorado Home," but it was properly staked as the state song of Kansas, in the form we know it, in 1947.

Due to the various incarnations of the song, and its spread across the US as it became popular, the true author and composer became uncertain. Around 1935, an Arizona couple, the Goodwin's, claimed that they had co-written the song and lyrics and sued, claiming rights to the copyright. For a couple of years, while a young lawyer was sent from state to state to discover the true origins of the song, it was pulled off the radio and not sung professionally. His search ended in Kansas, where he found Higley's poem and the case was closed.

While the state song of Kansas is held close to the heart of those living in the state, it is also widely thought of as a symbolic song for the American West, evoking scenes of endless prairies and horse-riding cowboys. It has been sung by numerous well-known musicians, including Paul Young and Willie Nelson, and has been included in various movie soundtracks through the years. In 1954, Porky Pig, of Looney Tunes fame, sung it in "Claws for Alarm."

The state song of Kansas is joined by various other state symbols. Its bird, the Western meadowlark, and animal, the American buffalo, join the flag as emblems of the state. The cabin in which Brewster Higley lived when he wrote "Home on the Range," on the banks of Beaver Creek, remains pretty much exactly as it was at the time of writing and is visited by many locals and visitors to Kansas.

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Discussion Comments
By sunshined — On Apr 07, 2012

Living in Kansas most of my life I am familiar with many things about our state. Many people are familiar with the "Home on the Range" song.

What many don't realize is the Kansas state animal is the buffalo. The song mentions giving them a home where the buffalo roam.

The Kansas state tree is the Cottonwood tree. This is a fast growing tree that can provide quite a bit of shade within a few years time. This would be a perfect tree to provide some shade and shelter on the range.

By SarahSon — On Apr 06, 2012

I spent a few years of my early life in Kansas and remember learning what some of the state symbols are.

When I left Kansas, I was surprised at how many people knew the song "Home on the Range". I figured it was something that was just well known in Kansas. I still don't know how that song became so popular.

I do remember that the Kansas state flower is the sunflower. If you drive through this state in the fall, you will see miles and miles of sunflower fields.

They are really quite stunning and beautiful, and I can see why this was chosen as their state flower.

By bagley79 — On Apr 06, 2012

I don't think very many state songs are as common as the state song of Kansas. I remember learning "Home on the Range" when I was in elementary school. I don't remember all the words, but I will never forget the chorus.

I have never lived in Kansas, but have driven through there a few times. Some places can be pretty desolate and you can drive for miles not seeing much of anything.

This song probably refers to the parts of Kansas that are not very populated.

I wonder how many people actually know what their state song is. I have lived in the same state my whole life and know what the state flower and the state bird is, but have no idea what the state song is.

By wavy58 — On Apr 05, 2012

I remember hearing this song in elementary school music class. The teacher sung it to us, and we had a sheet of words to follow along with her.

My older sister was taking piano lessons at the time. She had the music and words to “Home on the Range” in her lesson book, and I got to hear it at home a lot, too.

Though I am accustomed to hearing this song on the piano, I can totally see how it would be a perfect fit for the violin. The beautiful sweeping notes would be carried out wonderfully on the fretless strings of the violin in the hands of a talented musician.

By backdraft — On Apr 05, 2012

I have always loved the Kansas State motto. It is "Ad Astra Per Aspera" which is an ancient Greek phrase that roughly means "To the stars with determination".

Can you think of anything more optimistic sounding than that? Kansas is like that. People don't pay much attention to it or think that much is there but it is a cool state. It is also the only state that has their own investigative bureau, the KBI. Basically state wide super cops that investigate the worst crimes. I can't believe they haven't made a TV show about them yet.

By nextcorrea — On Apr 05, 2012

I went to Kansas State and I had some buddies out there who had more Kansas pride than you would think was possible. They were born and raised in little towns and loved their state more than anyone else.

We were in college and you can probably guess that we like to drink beer and when these guys would get a few into them they would sing Home on the Range in these booming country boy voices. I've never seen anything like it.

By ZsaZsa56 — On Apr 04, 2012

I grew up in Kansas City just two blocks from the state border with Kansas and I had no idea what the state song was. For that matter I don't know what Missouri's is either.

I'm pretty surprised that it is Home on the Range. That is such a common song. It's sort of like having the state song of California be I Left My heart in San Francisco.

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