The Return of Football Brings a New Anthem With A Fightin’ Spirit
Carleton’s storied basketball team, renascent football team and fans of both, get ready: you have a new fight song to whip you into a fervour come game day.
The song is called “The Red, White & Black.” Carleton music professor James K. Wright wrote the lyrics to a tune by John Philip Sousa.
“Carleton Ravens, down through history/We fight, fight, fight, fight, fight to victory!” thunder the opening lines of the song, which has yet to debut at a game. Whether football or basketball, the lyrics remain almost the same: “And standing tall we’ll own the ball, down the field (court) we’ll roar,” it continues.
“It has the effect of a cheer. It’s encouraging and fun,” says Wright. “It’s the kind of thing where people chime in with the bits they know: ‘fight, fight, fight to victory’—I think they’ll know that.”
College and university fight songs sprang up over a century ago when the rapid expansion of intercollegiate football sent sports lovers scurrying for ways to rally ’round their teams—and their numbers are legion, including the famous “Notre Dame Victory March” and the University of Michigan’s “The Victors.”
In the past, martial music, written to inspire the troops, was frequently paired with proud, truculent words in a winning combination.
Carleton University had a fight song from the 1950s when it was still a college. Wright adapted it, keeping, for example, the “fight, fight” line but changing others, such as, “We’ll spill their gore …” to more acceptable sentiments.
He also stuck with the college’s original Sousa tune “Liberty Bell,” weaving in his own melody line on top to make singing along with it easier.
Sousa was an American, and Wright would have preferred an all-Canadian song. However, he realized that many people would recognize the Sousa tune if only because it was the theme song of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and its bright, buoyant sentiment is just what’s needed here. “You can almost imagine people in a British pub singing along,” says Wright, who also composed the music for Carleton’s new, more tempered convocation anthem.
So come on, fire up those vocal chords: “For only just one team can lead the pack/So raise a cheer for the red, white and black!”
Find the full anthem and sheet music on our blog at specialtopic.carleton.ca.