Flaming Lips' state song perseveres

Oklahoma governor to sign order despite controversy

After weeks of controversy and uncertainty, Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry is scheduled to sign an executive order Tuesday that names the Flaming Lips' "Do You Realize??" as the official rock song of Oklahoma.

Flaming Lips main man Wayne Coyne said the experience has been at times exciting and disappointing, and in quintessential Lips fashion, always surreal.

"It just seemed to me the whole thing was absurd to begin with, and now it even becomes more absurd," Coyne said. "Now I really feel like it's something worth fighting for because I don't want people to just think, 'Oh, Oklahoma is this backwards state as we suspected.' "

It's been an interesting experience for the Oklahoma City band. Over the course of a month the act watched as its popular track, from 2002's "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots," won an Internet contest for best Sooner State rock song -- over All-American Rejects, Leon Russell and the Call -- with the measure passed by the Oklahoma state Senate and then rejected by the state House of Representatives because band member Michael Ivins wore a sickle and hammer T-shirt.

"You know, when it happened a couple of months back that seemed surreal it ever happened, and then when all of this (controversy) started, I think everybody's knee-jerk reaction in the beginning was, 'Ah, we knew it was too good to be true. That's more of the Oklahoma we thought we were dealing with,' " Coyne said. "But it's not true, and I think that's the main reason I wanted to make sure I got to say something about it.

"I don't think we're battling against what we feel is like a backwards mentality here. It's really just a few religious wackos that think they can tell everybody what to do. It's not even to me Democrats vs. Republicans. It's really just a couple of these small-minded guys who are the most popular guys in their church and their little small towns. In some ways it's so absurd, it can only make us look good and them look stupid."

For Coyne, the best part of the ordeal revolves around Henry vetoing the house rejection of the contest results, which included more than 21,000 votes cast.

"There are a lot of other great things that are happening in Oklahoma," Coyne said. "And you know for the governor to stand up and veto it and be on our side, it's such a great story in the end."

Coyne hinted that the band has one more wrinkle planned for Tuesday's ceremony, when Henry will sign the executive order at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City.

"I think we'll print up a couple of thousand of these (sickle and hammer) T-shirts and everybody who comes to this thing will be wearing one," Coyne said. "We'll see if we can get the governor to wear one, too."