OK, now having got that noted, there is a song by Trapper Schoepp with the same title, the melody of which has a slight resemblance to the melody of the anthem (if that is the right word) above. And it has lyrics written in part or full by Bob Dylan.
The Dylan lyrics come from one of Dylan’s notebooks – a notebook of the type that was used for the New Basement Tapes series.
These lines which consist of three verses have the same title as the state song, including the comma, and were written in 1961, so not too long after he first signed for Columbia. Apparently the lyrics in their original form were offered at auction in 2017, but then were sold privately. However Trapper Schoepp saw the lyrics and then created the song, with a reference back to the state anthem.
Speaking of this he said, “I imagined this drifter being rocked to sleep in a train car to this three-four waltz rhythm. And he’s just hearing this song in his head ‘On, Wisconsin’ that’s bringing him back home.
“The words are playful and bring to mind some early Woody Guthrie lyrics and other folk songs Dylan might have been listening to in his early 20s. I have to give a nod to Quinn Scharber, who played the clean jazzy lead guitar parts, which puts the song in the ’50s ballad territory.”
There is on line a copy of the notebook lyrics – reproduced here. I’m sorry they are not clear – that is the best I can do with my limited technical ability.
Schoepp then recorded the song and forwarded it to Bob Dylan’s publishing company. He reports what happened then as…
“So I’m laying in bed one night, and my manager sends me an email that simply reads, ‘Dylan has it now.’ I immediately got pretty excited about that.”
The management team had, it seems, given the ok to the song and forwarded to Bob for final approval. He gave it meaning the record could be released as a co-written song.
It now appears on Primetime Illusion – an album that focuses on modern city life.
Here’s a live version with a spoken introduction about the origins.
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