Just Another Touchdown for U.Va.

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…

Grab bag: Hallelujah and taxation

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” (2022 note: the original site is now dead, so here’s an archive link), 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

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!!!!”

Grab bag: UX data vs. aesthetic experience

The market failure of application security

Part 1 of an as yet indeterminate number of posts about why application security has historically been broken, and what to do about it.

Software runs everything that is valuable for companies or governments. Software is written by companies and purchased by companies to solve business problems. Companies depend on customer data and intellectual property that software manages, stores, and safeguards.

Companies and governments are under attack. Competitors and foreign powers seek access to sensitive data. Criminals seek to access customer records for phishing purposes or for simple theft. Online vigilante groups express displeasure with companies’ actions by seeking to expose or embarrass the company via weaknesses in public facing applications.

Software is vulnerable. All software has bugs, and some bugs introduce weaknesses in the software that an attacker can use to impact the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of software and the data it safeguards.

Market failure

The resources required to fix software vulnerabilities are in contention with other development priorities, including user features, functional bugs, and industry compliance requirements. Because software vulnerabilities are less directly visible to customers than the other items, fixing them gets a lower priority from the application’s business owner so fixing them comes last. As a result, most software suppliers produce insecure software.

Historically, software buyers have not considered security as a purchase criterion for software. Analyst firms including Gartner do not discuss application security when covering software firms and their products. Software vendors do not have a market incentive to create secure software or advertise the security quality of their applications. And software buyers have no leverage to get security fixes from a vendor once they have purchased the software. The marketplace is not currently acting to correct this information asymmetry; this is a classic market failure, specifically a moral hazard failure, in which the buyer does not have any information about the level of risk in the product they are purchasing.

So the challenge for those who would make software more secure is how to create a new dynamic, one in which software becomes more secure over time rather than less. We’ll talk about some ideas that have been tried, without much success, tomorrow.