Fight songs hold a lot of meaning and carry a lot of tradition, no matter what school you're at. To say a team should change it's fight song is often considered to be a form of sacrilege. Nonetheless, many teams have done it over the years. It's time to defuse the "Dynamite".
I realize that this may not be the wisest first "fanpost" at Anchor of Gold. I may upset some people with this, as this is going to be a rather sensitive topic for some. I do not believe that a fight song is something that cannot be changed. Hell, I was taught a fight song for Cornell that as best as I can tell is only sung by the Cornell glee club now ("Carnelian and White"). However, I am not advocating change for change's sake.
Let me start by saying that I have sang (and often screamed) every word of our fight song at every VU game I have been at. Unlike most of our fellow fans, I know every awful word. Let's start by actually breaking down the words to the fight song:
Dynamite, Dynamite, when Vandy starts to fight
Saying something "is dynamite" is beyond old fashioned. Not something terribly surprising given the song was written in 1922. We might as well say that our team is swell. Or maybe we should say "gee wiz, look at the SEC officials once again missing a blatant PI call". There are times where lyrics like this would be fine, but to start a fight song like this is just awkward.
I also take incredible issue with a FIGHT SONG saying "when we start to fight". When? How about always? How scary is: "well, when we start to fight"? Would you fear something that says "meh, if we decide to fight"?
Down the field with blood to yield, if need be save the shield
I'm going to admit ignorance here and admit that I don't quite understand what "if need be save the shield" is supposed to mean. I assume it's something about saving face or defending the star (our "shield" so to speak) in some abstract sense. In the same way Roger Goodell talks about "defending the shield" when he's really meaning defending the brand and the overall perception of the league. But at least there the NFL shield actually looks like a shield - not a star.
"Down the field with blood to yield" is the only part of the fight song that actually talks about fighting in some sort of reasonable sense. I don't particularly like it, but as far as silly lines in a college fight song go, that's par for the course.
If victory's won when battle's done, Vandy's name will rise in fame
NO fight song should ever say "if we win", not even Vanderbilt's. What kind of school goes into a game singing "if we win"??? You may be quick to point out that saying "if we win" may be very appropriate given the past futility of Vanderbilt football. That would be a fair (albeit sore) point. However, the fight song isn't just for our football team and even if it was, we still shouldn't say it. Saying "if we win" may be acceptable for politicians and lawyers, but not in sports.
I am by no means advocating blind loyalty here. What you say to your friends (and fellow spectators) is one thing, what you sing in a fight song is another. By all means, feel free to tell the UGA fan next to you this year that you know we're going to get ground into a fine powder. However, we should be singing about our "inevitable triumph".
But win or lose, the fates will choose, and Vandy's game will be the same
This is almost a repeat of the previous line, but this time it's a much more anachronistic, "aw shucks mister" way of saying "if we win". It also implies that we have no real input in the matter by invoking the fates. Any football fan is aware of "the football Gods". My old roommates can attest to the many TVs and walls that nearly averted catastrophe due to the football Gods screwing us over. Shouldn't we know better than to invoke them directly DURING A GAME? Maybe that's why we've lost so much.
Ok, seriously, don't say we have no control over winning or losing. As far as "Vandy's game will be the same", there's only so many times I can say "Dynamite" is full of old time-y saccharine sentiment.
Dynamite, Dynamite, when Vandy starts to fight
Ok, I've spent some time here smashing the lyrics. The fact is, however, a lot of schools have awesome fight songs and just never bother with the lyrics anymore. Or, if they do, no one really cares about them because a lot of schools have bad fight song lyrics. So ok, we have bad lyrics too, but our fight song's music isn't exactly that great either. Granted, it could be a lot worse, if you don't believe me, fire up a copy of NCAA14 or go to YouTube and start listening to fight songs of other schools. We certainly could have it worse, but that doesn't mean it can't be better
While "Dynamite" can be a fun song, it is not an exciting song. It's not a fight song that you hear and makes you feel like you can run through a wall. It's not a song that gets you ready for the game. It lacks everything you want out of a fight song. I'd gladly accept every last hokey word out of "Dynamite" if it had that kind of energy. You want your fight song to amp up the fans, and at that point, the lyrics really don't matter.
For an example of a good fight song, let's go to LSU's fight song, "Fight for LSU" (Geaux Tigers; lyrics here):
That's what a fight song should song like. It's a song that you hear and you instantly want to go smash something. Well, smash something or just drink a whole lot of Abita Turbodog while chowing down on some awesome Jambalaya (a friend of mine makes an excellent alligator piquante too). Either way.
That's the level of excitement we should have in our fight song - we don't. A careful reader will have gone to the lyrics and noticed that "Fight for LSU"'s lyrics aren't exactly great either (although worlds better than "Dynamite"). The excitement the music brings overcomes that. You hear that and you're ready for a game.
But... But... TRADITION
Saying that we should nix "Dynamite" will likely piss off some of our 100 or so fans out there. I realize there's a tradition involved in listening and singing the same song at a school that everyone who went there has sung for almost 100 years. We shouldn't allow something like that to stick us with a bad fight song forever though. We can still keep "Dynamite" around for other things. Hell, we still keep around "Cheer for Ol' Vandy" (which I like more than "Dynamite"), and play it all the time. I may be one of three people in the world that know the lyrics to that one.
To be clear, I am not saying we have to get rid of "Dynamite" forever. I simply believe we are in need of a better fight song.
When I was still at Vanderbilt, they started a "tradition" of carting Mr. C and the cheerleaders out on the field with a giant plunger of "Dynamite". The announcer would act out this whole thing where he'd ask Mr. C what he is hiding, Mr. C in turn reveals it to be a 'box' of TNT. He then depresses the plunger, which would signal the team to come out. I don't mean any disrespect for the people involved in creating that, but I really find it to be overly silly and frankly, embarrassing. Surely we can have something a little less... Nick Jr. than that? Granted, we were in desperate need of ANY pre-game show at the time, and I realize there was likely pressure from the powers that be to come up with something.
I didn't make it to any home games last season, but as far as I have been told, the "tradition" continues. I don't have any good ideas for alternatives; however, I'm not paid to come up with them. That's why I'm an astrophysicist and not a marketing person (or a writer for that matter).
I just want our official fight song to be something we can be proud of. This is just one man's opinion, but I've felt this way for a long time. A fight song shouldn't be hokey and friendly. That's what you have an Alma Mater for. A small part of me hopes that HC James Franklin knows this and will find a way to change it. He's of course got bigger things to worry about right now. You know, like beating Mississippi.
Regardless, it's time to defuse the "Dynamite".
It's fitting, in a way, that I chose today to write this. Because as I was drafting and fiddling with this, a wonderful guide on how to do school-themed YouTube fan songs has appeared on EDSBS.
That is entirely too many words about a fight song no one cares about.