Trumpets roar, drums bellow and tubas boom as the marriage between sports and the arts commences on the football field. Similar to the games themselves, the songs played before kickoff, during halftime and following a win are all that contribute to making the sporting event memorable.
Stanford’s two most notorious fight songs, “Come Join the Band” and “All Right Now,” make regular appearances at football games and other events. Though the former, written by Aurania Ellerbeck Rouverol, is the official song of The Band, the latter is the most common song performed at games.
“All Right Now” was originally a song by the United Kingdom rock band Free, and was later adapted for the Band. It made headlines during the 2016 Presidential race when then-Republican candidate Donald Trump played it as he announced former Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate. The Band took to Twitter, posting a letter that read, “Our concern, Don (we’re calling you Don, hope that’s cool), is that your divisive rhetoric will tarnish the spirit of the song and all that it stands for.” The letter further noted that the original song’s co-writer and Free’s bassist, Andy Fraser, also wrote former President Barack Obama’s campaign anthem, “Yes We Can.”
Meanwhile, Cal has more fight songs than recent wins, with over twenty popular band tracks, but only seven Big Game victories since 1995. Composed nearly a century ago, “Big ‘C’” is one of Cal’s most notorious fight songs in the band’s history. The song was written in commemoration of the big “C” made from cement and constructed on the “rugged Eastern foothills” of the campus.
Controversy sparked during All University Weekend, an annual football game series where various University of California schools faced off between the late 1940s and early 1960s. During the combined half-time show where all the university bands played together, UCLA continued playing “Big ‘C’” following their set, which Cal argued was a violation of copyright laws. However, after months of bitter disagreement, Cal was notified by the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress that the song had never been copyrighted and was, as a result, in the public domain for others to adapt and rearrange without permission.
“Fight for California,” played after every scoring play and after a Cal team takes the field, also has a distinctly diverse history, one that is literally out of this world. A shuttle mission launched by NASA to repair a communication system known as SolarMax was operated by a satellite crew of predominantly Cal graduates. The mission crew woke up one morning to the song blasting through the speakers.
Music has a spirit of unity, one that can not be defeated by a centuries-long football rivalry.