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Moment of Indiana History

Back Home Again in Indiana

In 1917, “Back Home Again in Indiana” hit gold when it was included on the second recording by a New Orleans combo credited with the creation of jazz.

Tin Pan Alley musicians of the 1940s who sang of their longing for an Indiana home were not necessarily Hoosiers.

Borrowing liberally from the official state song, “On the Banks of the Wabash”, Rensselaer native James F. Hanley published “Back Home Again in Indiana” in 1917.

Hanley had reason to long for his Indiana home: after college, he joined the army, fighting in World War I. After getting out of the service, he wrote “Back Home” while working as a vaudeville accompanist in New York.

Hanley also composed such influential standards as “Second Hand Rose” for Ziegfeld Follies and “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart,” popularized by Judy Garland.

In 1917, “Back Home” became an immediate hit because of its inclusion on the second recording made by the Original Dixieland Band, the New Orleans combo credited with the creation of jazz.

This record sold astronomically well, catapulting the band and the tune to fame.

Hanley’s tune has endeared itself to each generation of jazz artists. In the 1920s, Louis Armstrong opened every All-Star Band performance with “Back Home”. In the 1930s, Benny Goodman made a swing recording of the number.

Performed at every Indy 500 since 1946, “Back Home” is perhaps the most beloved and celebrated musical homage to Indiana.

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