Irish eyes smile for best college fight song
Mike Brown

They told me I had to write a sports column this week all because I was wandering around the office asking a simple question.

“Is it just me or does everyone have the Boston College fight song stuck in their heads?”

I won’t leave you hanging. It was just me.

(FYI, the lyrics aren’t that great, mostly the words “for Boston” repeated 173 times).

I’ve been listening to fight songs on that internet thing.

I like fight songs. I really like Rockdale’s fight song. It’s to the tune of “On Wisconsin” which is one of the great ones.

Go Tigers!

Now, it’s dangerous to try and separate emotion from critical thinking when you’re talking about college football fight songs. After all, they’re called “fight songs” not “let’s sit down and talk about this rationally songs.”

Here’s what I mean. Take the Big Two around here, “Aggie War Hymn” and “Texas Fight.” You think people hear those and go “oh, what a good tune” or do they go “Fiery swordslashing, flaming death to tu!” or “Impale them Aggies on rusty hay baler?”

I rest my case.

I’m prepared to tell you which one I think is the best.

But first, a few sidelights:

• Do you want to tick off an Oklahoma fan? Point out “Boomer Sooner” is essentially the same tune as “Boola Boola,” one of the many and strange fight songs of Yale University. They’ll love that.

• Some schools can’t decide which one of their many tunes is their actual fight song. Missouri tops them all, combining three distinct melodies into one song. One sounds like the old World War I ballad “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.”

• Two schools who never have to worry about what their fight songs sound like, so long as they maintain their longtime, quite excellent, standards for selecting cheerleaders are Alabama and USC.

• It’s not fair to include the service academy fight songs when you’re comparing music. Army, Navy and Air Force are defending our country, a way of life and western civilization. All the others with fight songs are simply playing games.

Okay, here it comes, and I think this is as rational a judgement as you’re ever likely to get because I have no emotional attachment with this university and certainly not with its football team. I’m actually not too fond of it.

But the best fight song there’s ever been, and is ever likely to be, is Notre Dame’s.

It’s not even close. I mean come on:

Cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame

Wake up the echoes cheering her name,

Send the volley cheer on high,

Shake down the thunder from the sky.

Wow. Notre Dame’s fight song grabs you and tells you what all sports fans instinctively know.

This is serious stuff, dudes! I mean “shake down the thunder from the sky?”

The tradition is part of that great fight song. Every time they play it you look up and half expect to see Knute Rockne, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Paul Hornung and the Gipper.

You know when they were sending that little spacecraft to the stars back in the 70s and decided to include the great music of earth in case some being with three heads would listen to it a million years from now and wonder what those earth people were all about.

I’m glad Beethoven and Bach and Duke Ellington are on there. But I’ll tell you what else I hope was on there:

What though the odds be great or small

Old Notre Dame will win over all,

While her loyal sons are marching

Onward to Victory.

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2011-08-04 digital edition

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