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FIGHT SONG REVIEW: THE BUCKEYE BATTLE CRY

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FROM THE MAN WHO ALSO WROTE THE GAY CABALLERO

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Ohio State v Clemson Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

First of all, it’s got a good name: THE BUCKEYE BATTLE CRY. It’s illogical, because nuts cannot cry or even sing, much less engage in battle or warfare of any sort. All fight songs should start at illogical nonsense, and then move forward towards incoherence from there. The title is good, Ohio State. This is a very good title indeed.

Second, it’s authentic vaudeville-style bom-bompery, another plus when you’re talking about fight songs. Most fight songs for major universities were written out of (or just plain stolen) from military marches or ragtime jazz. We prefer ragtime jazz, since it shares so much of what we consider to be essential college football identity: Near-chaos, rampant fraud, black market economics, and a generally festive atmosphere bordering on something that should be broken up by the authorities. Military-style fight songs are fine—hi Texas A&M!—but on the whole, you want a good bit of blustery nonsense. You know, something that sounds like a jazz band playing in the back of a delivery van, but only if that delivery van began rolling downhill

Third: it was actually written by a vaudeville guy, Frank Crumit, who actually went to Ohio State, and looks appropriately miserable for someone writing a seminal piece of America’s Most Vocally Miserable State’s culture.

LIFE IS POINTLESS, THE SPOT WAS GOOD, BUT THE EMAILS, GO BUCKS, EAT AT ARBY’S WHICH WAS FOUNDED IN OHIO, TOO

Crumit was a very successful songwriter whose song credits include all of the following completely real songs:

  • “And Then He Took Up Golf”
  • “No News (or What Killed The Dog)”
  • “The Gay Caballero”
  • “Bohunkus”
  • “The Pig Got Up And Slowly Walked Away”
  • “I Married The Bootlegger’s Daughter”
  • “The Return of a Gay Caballero”
  • “There’s No-one With Endurance Like The Man Who Sells Insurance”
  • “What Kind of a Noise Annoys an Oyster?”
  • “Jack Is Every Inch A Sailor”
  • “Wrap Me Up in my Tarpaulin Jacket”
  • “Lady of my Dreams Taught Me How To Play Second Fiddle”
  • “I Wish I Was In Peoria”
  • “She Gives Them All The Ha Ha Ha”
  • “I Can’t Stand Sitting In A Cell”

We made none of these up. Frank Crumit is obviously our nation’s greatest songwriter ever, and we wrote this entire thing just to include these song titles. That’s really the reason for this whole post, and we admit that. Go look at the lyrics for “The Gay Caballero” and tell us it was not worth it.

Fourth and not least of all the lyrics rule:

In old Ohio (Columbus) there's a team,

That's known thru-out the land;

Unnecessary hyphens. Another indicator of jazz-age excellence and fashionable antediluvian spelling. Points awarded.

Eleven warriors, brave and bold,

Whose fame will ever stand,

And when the ball goes over,

Our cheers will reach the sky,

Ohio Field will hear again

The Buckeye Battle Cry.

Brave and bold is kind of repeating yourself or at least overlapping, but that’s fine. Endless hyperbole is key, and we’ve got that here. Also the “ball going over” probably refers to cheering for punts, which is super Big Ten and on brand. This is going so well, Ohio State. Archetypical, immortal fight song material.

Drive! Drive on down the field;

Men of the scarlet and gray;

Don't let them thru that line,

We've got to win this game today,

You might think reminders that you need to win football games are unnecessary, but Illinois’ fight song only mentions expecting a victory, not requiring it. Look how that worked out for them. You’re not assuming anything, Ohio State, and that’s important.

Come on, Ohio!

Smash thru to victory,

We'll cheer you as you go;

Our honor defend

So we'll fight to the end

For Ohio.

More completely unnecessary poetic inversion here, this is a goddamn masterpiece.

We'll scatter to the east and west,

When college days are done;

And memories will cling around,

The dreams of everyone;

The last verse is the weakest here. It talks about life outside football, which really should be beyond the scope of a fight song unless we’re talking about a general sense of well-being at merely existing as a fan or player of said team. The Georgia Tech fight song is especially guilty of this, since it mentions parenting strategies. Parenting strategies, and a reminder that you will have to pay for children and put in the labor of raising them, should never, ever be a part of any fight song. So at least this doesn’t do that?

We'll play the game of living,

Paging Butch Jones. It’s the weirdest phrase here, unless you literally leave the Ohio State campus in a large plastic car with several huge pink and blue plastic figurines stuffed in the backseat. Only one person has done this in the history of Ohio State: Cardale Jones. He did it, and like every other legendary Cardale Jones achievement, it will be up to you to prove that he did not, and not up to us to verify it.

With head and shoulders high!

And where in wear the spirit of

The Buckeye Battle Cry!

“Where in wear” is complete gibberish, we’re out of bonus points to award here. It has superfluous exclamation points, enthusiastic gibberish all over the place, and sounds like it could be played on a piano during a brawl at a speakeasy. It serves the practical purpose of reminding the team that they should win the football game, while also specifically forbidding Ohio State graduates from proceeding north or south.

Think about that: What other fight song explains graduates’ migratory patterns? Now you know why all Ohio State fans either live in New Jersey, Chicago, or Orange County, California, too. What other piece of exuberant nonsense does that?

None, we say, also asking that you not ask how the song explains why so man Buckeye fans ended up in Tampa or Orlando. This is a top-flight college fight song even if it does have a sort of weak final verse, and also fails to explain why I-4 is loaded with Buckeye stickered cars loitering at 60 mph in the left lane.

Summary: It’s good, is what we’re trying to say. Upon further review, this is a very, very good fight song.