The Big Apple has Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” San Francisco has Tony Bennett’s famous tune about leaving his heart there. Now little Belfast, Maine, has its own unofficial anthem.

Like the city itself, the song is considerably less well-known.

Last week the Belfast City Council proclaimed “Further On” by Bronze Radio Return its unofficial anthem, at least for 2015. Chris Henderson, a singer/guitarist for the not-quite-famous indie band, grew up in Belfast.

The council wanted to honor Henderson by officially recognizing the song, which was featured in the recent Bill Murray movie “St. Vincent.”

The song is peppy, cute and a little folksy – much like Belfast, which is about 45 miles east of Augusta in Waldo County. That’s why “Further On” was chosen, said City Councilor Mike Hurley.

In addition to its recent fame, the upbeat song is about moving forward. Belfast was once a poultry town, but that industry collapsed in the 1970s; since then the city has focused on art, farming and environmentalism. The city has an “eco-village” where residents can live in an environmentally sustainable, multigenerational co-housing community, and The Green Store on Main Street carries composting toilets.


It’s not typical for a small city with a population of just 6,660 to pick an annual anthem, but Belfast isn’t typical. For instance, other items that were up for debate on the City Council’s Dec. 16 agenda were the appointment of Belfast’s new poet laureate, Toussaint St. Negritude; electing a city crossing guard; and how much the city should charge the Peace Festival to rent its boathouse.

At the meeting, Hurley offered up “Further On” as the official city anthem, but that was met with some mild resistance.

Others noted that there are other musicians who hail from Belfast, including Lindsey Ray, a pop singer who has a couple of albums out and whose songs can be heard in commercials for McDonald’s and JCPenney.

By offering the song as the city’s unofficial anthem for only one year, the city leaves open the possibility that anthem-choosing will be an annual event. So the song is now officially the unofficial anthem of Belfast for 2015, Hurley said.

“Maybe in 2016 we can become officially official,” he said.

Henderson, who was raised in Belfast and returns for the holidays from his home in Hartford, Connecticut, said he was honored that the town made the proclamation about his band’s song.


“I’m thrilled about this whole thing,” he said. “I go to Maine to write. I’ll start stuff here in Hartford, then – my dad is an artist in Belfast and has a studio – I’ll set up in the studio and work there. ‘Further On’ was a product of that studio.”

Henderson brought the five other members of Bronze Radio Return to Belfast. “The guys love Maine,” he said. One of the musicians loved it so much he had his honeymoon there and returns every year.

Bronze Radio Return is finishing a new record now and will go on tour in the spring. Henderson expects to make a tour stop in Portland, but also hopes to play in Belfast. At the last City Council meeting, Hurley and others said they hoped the band would go to the high school and inspire Belfast teenagers.

“It’s so great to come from a place that embraces art and tells you to make songs and make art. It’s a total thrill. This shows what an awesome, supportive community Belfast is – and Maine is,” Henderson said.

Belfast has been making efforts to attract more young people.

“One way you send that message out is by honoring the young people from here who do achieve,” said Councilor Neal Harkness.


Other cities around the nation also have anthems: St. Charles, a suburb of Chicago, has “In St. Charles.” Portland, Oregon, has “Portlandia” – an actual song unrelated to the Comedy Central show of the same name. And Maine has an official song, aptly named “State of Maine Song,” which proclaims Maine is the fairest spot on Earth.

The University of Maine has its famous “Stein Song.” And there are songs about some Maine towns, like “Driving Old Memories” for Rockland. Tim McGraw also recently released “Portland, Maine,” which is only tangentially about Portland.

But a city with its own anthem is pretty unusual.

“I’ve never heard of this. And I hate to say it, but if anyone would know (if other Maine towns have anthems) it would be me,” said Kerstin Gilg, performing arts director of the Maine Arts Commission. “It’s a clever thing to do. It’s great to recognize Maine artists. It strengthens communities. It makes people value their communities more when they have something tangible they can appreciate, like music.”

Heather Steeves can be contacted at 791-6335 or at:

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