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“Ohio” is the sound of missing home

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In Hear This, The A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, we’re picking songs about specific states.

Doris Day, “Ohio” (1960)

It’s weird how you can come to know a song. Take “Ohio,” which was originally written by Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green for the 1953 musical Wonderful Town. Though it was originally sung by Rosalind Russell on stage, it was later recorded by Doris Day for her 1960 Show Time album, and that’s the version that’s most popular on YouTube. The version I know best, though, is the one performed by Carol Burnett and Jane Lynch 50 years later in an episode of Glee, a show I don’t even particularly like.


A mournful track about regretting leaving home, “Ohio” caught my attention because, like so many people, I’ve left Ohio. Though I’m only a few states west now, in Illinois, there are times when I wonder, like the song’s protagonist, “Why oh why oh why oh / Why did I ever leave Ohio?” I miss my family, I miss Cleveland, and sometimes—at my lowest points—I even miss the Browns. But like the characters in Wonderful Town, I left to find fame and fortune at a time when, for 22-year-old me, staying in Cleveland wasn’t all that appealing. I’ve since done well for myself, and now I get paid to write for a popular but silly website about things like children’s TV shows and Full House porn parodies, but sometimes—just sometimes—when I feel like wallowing a bit in a heap of nostalgia, I’ll pull up YouTube and just fall into Doris Day’s sweet, loping croon.

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