Thursday, August 15, 2013

U of M students had a "Hot Time" before they were "Victors"

This post pains my green-and-white bleeding heart, but Michigan 101 covers the entire state, and does not discriminate based on college loyalties, so I've decided to write about...gulp...The University of Michigan.

(See, I even capitalized the word "The".)

U of M's fight song, "The Victors" is one of the best-known anthems in college sports. John Philip Sousa, master of the march, even deemed it the greatest fight song ever. But "The Victors" didn't become the university's official theme until several years after it was written in 1898. What song motivated students' hearts and minds before then?

That would be, "A Hot Time in the Old Town."

The song was a popular ragtime tune written in 1896. It was frequently played by the United States military, whose version appears in the clip below.

That rendition is from 1917, and I have a feeling it more closely mirrors the song as played by
U of M than does the following version from blues singer Bessie Smith, which was recorded in 1927, after the ragtime era had ended (but which I like better than the military version).

Modern college sports fans have likely heard the song at University of Wisconsin sporting events, as the university's marching band plays it during basketball and hockey games, as well as after touchdowns during football games. (So it's likely that U of M football fans won't want to hear their former school song played anymore, at least during games against Wisconsin.) Other schools, such as Texas A&M and Eastern Illinois University, also play "Hot Time," in conjunction with their fight songs.

Eventually, "The Victors" assumed its status as U of M's fight song, and "Hot Time" has pretty much been forgotten, but I think it's a catchy tune in its own right.

Whew, okay, I got through that post just fine. And I'm actually not feeling bad about it. (Though I promise an MSU post will be coming soon!)

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