Let’s start with a trivia question. What do the following cities have in common? New York City, San Francisco, Jefferson Twp. NJ, Memphis, and London, UK? Think for a minute. Ready for the answer?
All of these cities have songs written about them. New York City has many. Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco. Memphis has several, from B B King’s “Memphis Blues” to Johnny Rivers “Memphis, Tennessee” and a few more since then.
Of course who as a child didn’t sing about London Bridge falling down? But Jefferson Township, New Jersey? Someone actually wrote a song about our beloved hometown? Yes someone did, and in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, it’s a true love song.
In November of 2005, the incredibly talented and prolific local musician Bill Child sat down and wrote a musical tribute called “My Sweet Home Jefferson.”
After the multi-talented and sadly deceased Margaret Brandel added the delightfully catchy and infectious chorus, the song was first performed at the Jefferson Township Community Chorus’ Spring Concert in June of 2006. The following month at Jefferson Day, Bill performed his creation as a solo and it has been a staple at the Jefferson Township Community Chorus’ spring concert and of musical programs in the community ever since, both as an individual piece and as a choral arrangement.
When I told Bill of my intention to write this column and asked his permission to print the lyrics, he eagerly gave his approval. As you can see from the words, it is as deeply felt an ode to a city or town as has ever been set to music
“My Sweet Home Jefferson”
Words & Music by William Child
There is a township in Northern New jersey
In the Highlands where living is grand
Where the falcon flies proud
O’er these hills wild and free
And to preserve it that way is our plan
To the good life and in peace may it stand
My sweet home Jefferson
My sweet home Jefferson
Many mountains and valleys to roam
If e’re I’m far away
I know my heart will say
to Jefferson please take me home
From Oak Ridge to the great Lake Hopatcong
Mahlon Dickerson to Berkshire Valley below
Like a fine tapestry
Towns joined hand in hand
Good neighbors and friendships to sow
Together forever to grow
Using the great third president’s name
Our beautiful township was formed
And still we await each day
Two centuries now along the way
May the Spirit we’ve found keep us strong
And so as we look toward tomorrow
May these green hills and valleys remain
For our children to find
Whatever dreams they may follow
There’ll be no better place for them
By any other name
repeat chorus 2x but change final line to:
To Jefferson the place I call home
Read the words slowly and you can see the different images of the township flash in front of your eyes. Even if you’re reading these words somewhere other than Jefferson, if you’ve ever been here, the words make you feel like you’re walking along any of the beautiful scenic drives than meander through town. Bill’s song is so well thought of that it is included in the Wikipedia entry for Jefferson Township, NJ.
If reading the words in their original phrasing isn’t moving enough, Bill also indulged us by supplying the following link to an actual performance of his song
As it happens in life, situations recently caused Bill to leave the town he has so beautifully immortalized musically. While in our recent conversation he sounds happy in his new environs, I know there is a large piece of his heart that will always call Jefferson Township his “sweet home.”
Consider this to be a musical Valentine from a talented former resident to the town he holds so dear.