1938 Virginia Football Songbook

Footballsongs 1938

Amidst disappointing news from the University of Virginia this week, I received an unexpected pleasure in the mail today: a 1938 University song book meant for football games and boxing matches.

As with the 1911 song book I posted about a few years ago, this one contains the lyrics (but no music) to commonly known songs for the student body to sing at sporting events. Unlike the previous edition, 27 years later the repertoire had shrunk to just four songs: “Virginia, Hail, All Hail,” “The Cavalier Song,” “Hike, Virginia” (with the Carolina lyrics), and of course “The Good Old Song”–first and second verse.

The advertisers list had shrunk too. The sponsoring businesses were just two: Bruton’s Barber Shop (Charlottesville’s Finest!) and Valley View Greenhouses, both near what is now the Downtown Mall.

For me, as with the previous version, it makes me happy to think about generations past of UVa students singing these song at sporting events. The full photo set is on Flickr: enjoy!

Virginia football songs for the Chik-Fil-A Bowl

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So here we are, on the eve of the last Virginia football game of 2011. At the beginning of the season, I had no hopes for a bowl game, in only the second season of the Mike London era. And yet here we are, in the Peach Bowl (now called the Chik-Fil-A Bowl) against Auburn.

As the historian of the Virginia Glee Club Alumni and Friends Association, I’ve had a special place in my heart for the football songs of the University, and I’ve written many posts about the origins of the songs. In honor of the game tonight, here’s all the posts in one convenient list. Enjoy!

Just Another Touchdown for U.Va.

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UVa football at Lambeth Field, Holsinger studio

It’s Saturday, so it’s time for another post about UVa’s football song heritage. This week’s contest isn’t one of those like the South’s Oldest Rivalry that has inspired its own set of songs—Virginia has only played Southern Mississippi a handful of times in the history of the program. The contest against Southern Miss in 2009 did not have the best outcome for UVa, so this week’s song is to inspire those members of the Cavaliers community to redouble their energies in supporting the team.

Stephen M. O’Brien, who graduated from the University in 1902 and went on to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1914, would have appreciated having “Just Another Touchdown for U.Va.” used in this context. His song, written to the tune of “Just A Little Bit Off The Top” (the same tune as “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”), has been used to marshal the spectators against Carolina, Norfolk, and Georgetown at various times. The third verse in the oldest printing of the lyrics extant (Songs of the University of Virginia, 1906) is as follows:

We’ve just come from Norfolk for the day–the day,
To-morrow we’ll go back to U.Va., V-a,
We’ll gather in Carolina’s tin, Virginia’s sure to win,
Ray! ray!! ray!!! then, and make a mighty din.

But in the 1911 University of Virginia football songbook, it’s transformed to:

We’ve just come to Georgetown for the day–the day,
Tomorrow we’ll go back to U.Va.,
We’ll gather in old Georgetown’s tin, Virginia’s sure to win,
Yell like hell then and make a mighty din.

And in the version performed by the Virginia Glee Club (arranged by Club’s conductor Arthur Fickenscher sometime between 1920 and 1933), the third verse is omitted entirely, but in the second verse the song has “Carolina’s mighty lame” (sometimes “Maryland’s mighty lame”) instead.

So I’d propose this set of words for this week:

Just another touchdown for U.V-a, V-a,
Just another touchdown for U.V-a, V-a,
Carry the ball a yard or two, we’ll tell you when to stop,
Yell, boys, yell, boys, Virginia’s on the top.

Just watch the men whose jerseys bear the V, the V
If up-to-date football you want to see, to see,
They stop the bucks, they block the kicks, the Golden Eagles are lame,
And the ball goes over, Virginia’s got the game.

The South’s Oldest Rivalry

Unidentified North Carolina crowd at the UVa Thomas Jefferson statue; photo by studio of Rufus Holsinger

 

Last Saturday wasn’t the best day in the Jarrett household. Having taught my four year old daughter to sing The Good Old Song, it was a disappointment to lose to Carolina, 28-17. But you have to have a long view in these things. The fight with Carolina is The South’s Oldest Rivalry, after all, and in the long view we’re only back four games (58 Carolina victories, 54 Virginia victories, and 4 ties).

Being a member of the Virginia Glee Club gives some unique perspective on the longevity of the rivalry. One of the songs on the most recent Glee Club CD, Songs of Virginia (available for purchase on Amazon! and on the Glee Club’s site!), reflects the rivalry. “Oh, Carolina” is one of the few numbers on the disc that manages to be both edgy and funny at once:

See the Tar Heels, how they’re running
Turpentine from every pore.
They can manufacture rosin,
But they’ll never, never score.

While there’s no good record to indicate how long the song has been around, it may date almost to the beginning of the rivalry. The author of the lyrics, William Roane Aylett, Jr., graduated from the University in 1895 with his medical degree and was in his first autumn on Grounds in 1892 when the first match was played (Virginia won the first match that year in Charlottesville, Carolina the second in Atlanta). Eleven years later, the song was still in circulation, as evidenced by its presence in A. Frederick Wilson’s collected Songs of the University of Virginia (published 1906). It also appears in a 1911 football program book along with other song texts. And after that, nothing until the Songs of Virginia recording.

There’s no evidence that the song was ever performed in a Glee Club concert, for instance–though there would have been lots of opportunities. UNC was the Virginia Glee Club’s oldest partner in its annual fall openings concerts (later “kickoff concerts”), with joint performances with the UNC Glee Club in 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, and 1977 and with the UNC Women’s Chorus in 1988 (from the records we have handy); none of the programs mention anything about the smell of turpentine.

But the song is handy as a reminder: not only did (do) UVa students take this hundred-plus-year rivalry with the Tar Heels seriously, they also sang about it. In the bleachers. At football games.

Say, maybe it’s time to make up a song about the Hokies…

From Rugby Road to Vinegar Hill

Gearing up for today’s UVa football game against Indiana is a lot more fun now that my daughter is old enough to enjoy the game. Since last week she’s been imploring me to “sing ‘The Good Old Song,’ daddy! –and the second verse!” I’ve also started to teach her “Virginia, Hail, All Hail.”

One Virginia song that I won’t be teaching her is “From Rugby Road to Vinegar Hill.” This most problematic, often hand-wrung-about of the Virginia songs is unlike any of the other ones I’ve written about because there is no clear author–as well as little among the lyrics that can be sung in public. But I think that if you put on a different hat, that of the folk song collector, it’s easy to find something to admire in the song, even sober.

One of the Glee Club’s past officers was Arthur Kyle Davis, Jr., about whom I’ve written before. His Traditional Ballads of Virginia shows how folk songs change as they are passed from person to person, and even how some lyrics move from song to song; for instance, verses of “Lady Isabel and the Elf-Knight” (known in Virginia as “Pretty Polly”) fetch up in “Young Hunting” (known as “Lord Henry” or, in Bob Dylan’s rendition, “Love Henry”). Also, melodies tend to get reused from song to song, with lyrics appropriate for the occasion being fit to much older tunes.

So it is with “From Rugby Road to Vinegar Hill.” Let’s start with the tune. Like many Virginia songs–“The Good Old Song” from “Auld Lang Syne,” “Oh Carolina” from “Clementine,” “Hike Virginia” from “Hot Feet,” “Just Another Touchdown for U.Va” from “Just a Little Bit Off the Top”–“Rugby Road” recycles another tune. In this case, the roots of the tune reach back to Charles Ives’ “Son of a Gambolier,” penned in 1895, and maybe even to “The Bonnie Blue Flag,” a Confederate marching tune, but the immediate antecedent is “Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech.” The history of college songs generally is full of this sort of campus-to-campus transmission of melody, arguing for college songs as a special form of folk song.

Then there are the lyrics, and here the similarity to transmitted ballad songs is even more apparent. While the first verse is highly topical to Virginia, with echoes of the shot that killed John A. G. Davis on the Lawn in 1841 ringing through “The faculty are afraid of us, they know we’re in the right,” and the traditional poles of Grounds (“Rugby Road”) and downtown Charlottesville (“Vinegar Hill”) serving as the site of the revels, the second traditional verse is more timeless. The second verse of “Rugby Road” begins:

All you girls from Mary Washington and R.M.W.C.,
Don’t ever let a Virginia man an inch above your knee

Far from being a waggish invention of some Wahoo or other, this line is practically a lock-stock-and-barrel lift from “The Dundee Weaver,” a bawdy Glaswegian street song:

Come aa ye Dundee weavers an tak this advise fae me
Never let a fellae an inch abune yer knee

Does knowing the history of the song make it any less offensive to a modern, coeducational University? Maybe not, especially considering how very offensive are some of the other verses that have been dreamed up over the years. But I think trying to throw the song out in its entirety misses an important clue to how the college songs that Wahoos sing as they watch football–and drink–came about and why some persist.

Virginia, Hail, All Hail

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Excerpt from the manuscript of the Fickénscher arrangement of “Virginia, Hail, All Hail”

Here it is, the best part of most UVa seasons–that time when the first game hasn’t started yet and the air is still full of anticipation. I’ve been playing UVa songs, mostly Virginia Glee Club repertoire, since earlier this week, and can’t wait to see what the new year’s football team will bring.

In honor of the week, here are a few past articles I’ve written about UVa football songs:

UVa’s second Jewish professor and the Virginia Yell Song. “Lehman’s humor is present in the “Virginia Yell Song,” written when he was an undergraduate. The only UVa football song with a parenthetical interjection, it sounds in places like a conversation between slightly jaded onlookers who will only cheer a winning team…”

Glee Club football songs: “Hike, Virginia”. “As I noted earlier this year, spectators used to sing at Virginia football games. And not just “The Good Old Song”–there were songs for every occasion and for every foe. A 1911 football song book that has come into my possession indicates part of how they were able to pull this off, by having lyrics in front of every fan, but there was much more required to make it happen, from the presence of a band (or the Glee Club) at games to Virginia fans who would write songs to be sung by the crowd. One of these fans was L. D. Crenshaw, and the song was “Hike, Virginia,” cowritten by Crenshaw and C.S. McVeigh.”

Glee Club history: from “The Cavalier Song” to McCarthy. “the University’s two official songs were chosen through a contest sponsored by College Topics (now The Cavalier Daily) in 1923. Seeking official University songs, the contest netted “Virginia, Hail, All Hail!“, byGlee Club alum John Albert Morrow, and “The Cavalier Song,” by English instructor Lawrence Lee and Glee Club alum Fulton Lewis, Jr. While most alums are familiar with “Virginia, Hail, All Hail!” only, if at all, through Glee Club performances, “The Cavalier Song” has been played at Virginia sports events by the various bands (University Band, Pep Band, Cavalier Marching Band) during the school’s history since its introduction. Because it’s typically performed as an instrumental, its lyrics have faded into obscurity, meaning that it is Fulton Lewis Jr.’s tune that we know best about the song.”

“Vir-ir-gin-i-a”: from the UVa iPhone app to Bob Dylan. “Featuring an arrangement by long-time Club conductor Donald Loach based on a tune by Handel, the text is by UVa professor Arthur Kyle Davis, Jr. (1897-1972). Davis himself sang in the Glee Club shortly after the group’s reformation by Alfred Lawrence Hall-Quest, serving as secretary during the group’s 1916-1917 season (during which Club performed the blackface musical Oh, Julius!,” a minstrel-show story of life in ancient Rome)….”

The Good Old Song of … The Virginia Glee Club. “Here’s the guy credited with writing the lyrics to “The Good Old Song” between 1893 and 1895—in an 1893 Glee Club photo! The guy who wrote the freakin’ “Good Old Song” was in Club!!!!”

UVa’s second Jewish professor and the “Virginia Yell Song”

Today’s Virginia Glee Club history update is about one of the classic University of Virginia football songs, and the man who wrote it–the University’s second Jewish professor.

Linwood Lehman wasn’t a Glee Club member–he was an undergraduate during a period where the Glee Club was mostly dormant, graduating in 1915 (the club had just revived that year after several less fruitful seasons). But he was a triple Hoo, taking a bachelors, masters, and doctorate at the University, and then going on to teach Latin there until his untimely death in 1953.

What is perhaps more surprising is that when he became a professor in 1920, he was only the University’s second Jewish professor. It turns out that Virginia, despite Jefferson’s Statute of Religious Freedom, was not particularly welcoming for Jews. The University’s first Jewish professor, J.J. Sylvester, was hired in 1841 but lasted less than a full term; the faculty failed to discipline a rowdy student who challenged him, and he was subsequently attacked by the student’s supporters. At the time of his hiring, the Richmond-based Presbyterian newspaper The Watchman of the South protested, claiming he had been hired over 40 other qualified candidates and stating “We have often said that as infidelity became ashamed of its own colors, it would seek to form alliances with Papism, Unitarianism, Judaism, and other errors subversive of Christianity.”

By the time Lehman came along, things had gotten a bit better. He stayed as a professor for 33 years, and had a significant impact, teaching Glee Club member and future Music Department head Ernest Mead among others. Mead remembered him as “somewhat offbeat with chic tastes, great humor and fine sensibilities.”

Lehman’s humor is present in the “Virginia Yell Song,” written when he was an undergraduate. The only UVa football song with a parenthetical interjection, it sounds in places like a conversation between slightly jaded onlookers who will only cheer a winning team:

Down the field our team is dashing–fight, Virginia, fight!
Carolina’ll get a smashing right
We are out for blood today so yell, boys, yell!
(–Will we get it? –I should say so!) Yell like hell!

But the overall song, with its “Let’s give a yell, boys, and we’ll yell Wa-hoo-wah/and raise our voices loud and roar,” has proved a worthy addition to the UVa football song repertoire. It was recorded on the Glee Club’s first album in 1951, and has made an appearance on the most recent one as well.

Glee Club football songs: “Hike, Virginia”

"Hike, Virginia" lyrics in a 1911 football song book

It’s first and ten for a new season of Virginia football, and for the first time in several years my heart is full of more than the usual blind optimism. With a new coach at the helm, I feel as though Virginia has a chance to shake loose the malaise that’s gripped the team for the past few years. In the spirit of blind optimism, then, I present a little history: the back story of a Virginia football song, “Hike, Virginia.”

As I noted earlier this year, spectators used to sing at Virginia football games. And not just “The Good Old Song”–there were songs for every occasion and for every foe. A 1911 football song book that has come into my possession indicates part of how they were able to pull this off, by having lyrics in front of every fan, but there was much more required to make it happen, from the presence of a band (or the Glee Club) at games to Virginia fans who would write songs to be sung by the crowd. One of these fans was L. D. Crenshaw, and the song was “Hike, Virginia,” cowritten by Crenshaw and C.S. McVeigh.

The story might end there, but I did a little sleuthing and found that L.D. Crenshaw was in fact Lewis D. Crenshaw, first secretary of the UVA Alumni Association, first to successfully accomplish a system of modern reunions, and the originator and host of the University’s bureau in Paris during World War I. He was fondly remembered by many alumni as a redoubtable host; a New Years Eve party in Paris was to continue “‘jusqu’au moment où les vaches rentrent chez ell’ (’til the cows come home). On the menu was ‘de l’egg nogg véritable.’” He was also instrumental in getting the centennial reunion together, with his goal being

to see that every human critter that can walk or hop or crawl or fly or swim, or even float down the Rivanna on his back, gets within calling distance of the old Rotunda… [searching for the] oldest living specimen of the genus alumnus Virginiensis, who we will have seated on the throne of extinct beer kegs [prohibition being in full force], and crowned with a chaplet of fragrant mint leaves.

Unfortunately, the infant Alumni Association could not afford to keep up Crenshaw’s salary, reports University historian Virginius Dabney–it seems alums were delinquent in their dues even in the beginning–so he resigned his post and returned to Paris indefinitely.

Less is known of C.S. McVeigh, save that he was in the Glee Club in 1905, per concert reviews in the spring of that year published in the Baltimore Sun and the Alexandria Gazette. (It is becoming axiomatic that just about every Virginia song I run across has at least one Glee Club man responsible for its authorship.) But together they produced a lesser known but still fun gem in the annals of Virginia songs.

“Hike, Virginia” was first recorded on Songs of the University of Virginia and can be heard on the Glee Club’s current record, Songs of Virginia, along with other Virginia songs.

Glee Club history: from “The Cavalier Song” to McCarthy

Fulton Lewis, Jr. with Joe McCarthy (source: Life Magazine)

Today’s odd moment in Virginia Glee Club history comes by way of that “other” official Virginia song, “The Cavalier Song.” While most alums today are familiar only with “The Good Old Song,” that collectively authored song-about-a-song set to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne” by Glee Club alum E.A. Craighill and sung by swaying Hoos at every touchdown, that song was never an official song of the University, though it has been the de facto alma mater since its introduction in 1895.

Instead, the University’s two official songs were chosen through a contest sponsored by College Topics (now The Cavalier Daily) in 1923. Seeking official University songs, the contest netted “Virginia, Hail, All Hail!“, by Glee Club alum John Albert Morrow, and “The Cavalier Song,” by English instructor Lawrence Lee and Glee Club alum Fulton Lewis, Jr. While most alums are familiar with “Virginia, Hail, All Hail!” only, if at all, through Glee Club performances, “The Cavalier Song” has been played at Virginia sports events by the various bands (University Band, Pep Band, Cavalier Marching Band) during the school’s history since its introduction. Because it’s typically performed as an instrumental, its lyrics have faded into obscurity, meaning that it is Fulton Lewis Jr.’s tune that we know best about the song.

It’s perhaps ironic that Lewis’s contribution to the University has been so long lasting, since many of his other contributions to history were decidedly less cheery. Described as “an indifferent student,” he left the University without a degree after three years and sought his fortune as a journalist, becoming a reporter and editor at the Washington Herald. After helping to unmask spy for Japan “Agent K” as Naval officer John Semer Farnsworth, he rose to fame as a conservative radio commentator, where at his peak he was syndicated on over 500 stations. As a commentator, he staked out a series of positions on the wrong side of history: against the New Deal and FDR, against America’s entry into World War II, and in support of Barry Goldwater and Joe McCarthy–backing the latter even after his nationwide disgrace.

Lewis’s ongoing support of McCarthy cost him his national audience, though he continued on the air until his death in 1966. He left behind him a noxious legacy and a reputation for subjective partisanship: the New Republic noted that his “wild charges were part of his campaign over many years to smear in every way possible the New Deal, the Fair Deal, and everybody not in accord with the most reactionary political beliefs”; the Washington Post memorialized him in 1987 as “one of the most unprincipled journalists ever to practice the trade”; and a profile on Salon calls him “a master of the partisan smear.”  He called moderate Republicans, like Casper Weinberger, Communists. In many ways, then, he was ahead of his time.

“Vir-ir-gin-i-a”: from the UVA iPhone app to Bob Dylan

I was pleased to download and check out the University of Virginia’s new iPhone app. “One stop” doesn’t begin to cover the scope of this app — Grounds directory, news, alumni clubs, reunions, alumni magazine, the Cavalier Daily, sports scores (and notifications)…

…and music. I was even more pleased to find the Virginia Glee Club‘s recording of “Vir-ir-gin-i-a” on the app’s list (along with marching band renditions of “The Good Old Song” and other Virginia tunes. While “Vir-ir-gin-i-a” seems an odd tune to represent Club–the recording from which the song was taken, Songs of Virginia, has many more familiar UVA related songs including the superb “Virginia, Hail, All Hail“–it’s actually an interesting tie to the past of both the University and the Glee Club.

“Vir-ir-gin-i-a” has many connections to the Glee Club. Featuring an arrangement by long-time Club conductor Donald Loach based on a tune by Handel, the text is by UVa professor Arthur Kyle Davis, Jr. (1897-1972). Davis himself sang in the Glee Club shortly after the group’s reformation by Alfred Lawrence Hall-Quest, serving as secretary during the group’s 1916-1917 season (during which Club performed the blackface musical Oh, Julius!,” a minstrel-show story of life in ancient Rome). Davis went on to serve in the Army during World War I; went to Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship; and returned to the University as a professor in the English department in 1923.

And here’s where it gets interesting. Davis went on to his greatest fame as a folklorist, collecting three volumes of traditional ballad and folk songs through field research and becoming the archivist for the Virginia Folklore Society. The main thrust of his research was in showing that the English and Scottish ballads listed and enumerated by Harvard folklorist Francis J. Child (the “Child Ballads”) were alive and well on American soil for hundreds of years before their collection and numbering by Child.

While influencing numerous Virginia faculty, including Paul Gaston, his most unlikely influence was on folk singer and song collector Paul Clayton, a student of his in the 1950s, whose song “Who’ll Buy You Ribbons (When I’m Gone)” was “re-gifted” by Bob Dylan for “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.” Of course “Who’ll Buy You Ribbons” was itself “re-gifted” from an Appalachian song called “Who’s Gonna Buy Your Chickens” which Clayton learned from Mary Bird McAllister, a song that was collected by Clayton while he was Davis’s student.

And “Vir-ir-gin-i-a”? Davis knocked it out in his spare time, apparently, in honor of the University’s sesquicentennial and premiered it himself at a meeting of the Jefferson Society. Loach arranged it for men’s voices for the 1972 Glee Club LP A Shadow’s on the Sundial, which financed the group’s first European tour, and it’s been in Club’s repertoire on and off since.

So while there are better known, and arguably better, pieces of Virginiana that could feature on future UVA app playlists, there are few that have so many interesting touchpoints to Glee Club, Virginia, and even pop music history.

1911 UVa Football Songbook

A quick post from the depths of Virginia musical history tonight. As part of a lot of miscellaneous University of Virginia memorabilia I got from eBay recently, I got an unusual item: a University of Virginia songbook that was handed out at football games. (Scans of the whole thing are available on Flickr.)  This particular instance dates from 1911, and probably from the November 4 game against Wake Forest. (The attentive among us will note that in 1911, six games into the season, Virginia was 6–0, while the uncharitable will note that the games were played against Hampden-Sydney, William and Mary, Randolph-Macon, Swarthmore, St John’s, and VMI.)

Football songs? Sure. All those fight songs and team specific songs that appear on Songs of Virginia really were current at one time, and sung at games. Even “Oh, Carolina.” (“They can manufacture rosin, but they’ll never, never score.”) Almost as much fun are reading the ads, for a bunch of businesses that are no longer around (the Jefferson Shaving Parlor, anyone?) As the house ad in the back exhorts, “remember the advertisers,” indeed.

The book was published “for the benefit of the University of Virginia Band,” and I suspect that—aside from contributing the text of “The Good Old Song” and maybe others—the Glee Club had nothing to do with the book, as all evidence is that the group was on hiatus in 1911. But it’s still fun to look at, and to imagine the modern attendees of Scott Stadium swaying as they sing 115-year-old words to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne,” never quite realizing the depth of the tradition that they are, however inadvertently, keeping alive.