N 1939 I
HAD BEEN OUT OF SCHOOL FOR 10 years and was teaching and coaching
basketball at Prosper High School. I drove to the Saturday night
movie in Denton, and during the stage show, Fessor Floyd Graham
announced a contest for a marching song.
I had been
writing songs for 10 years, and a couple of years earlier I had
hit on a snappy tune I liked enough to play again and again. It
had the same structure as many college songs. To say that I was
elated with Fessors announcement would be an understatement.
I sat down
at the old Kranic and Bach upright piano my mother had bought secondhand
some 20 years earlier. I played the tune a couple of times and wondered
how to start. Naming the school in the first line seemed appropriate.
give a cheer for North Texas State; Cheer
for the green and white.
like a good start. A little repetition doesnt hurt, and mention
of the school colors seemed fitting.
Maybe the underdog pitch. How about, Whatever the score were
But reverse the order and put in a few contractions, and you get:
in store but what eer the score.
it. The ideas right, the meters right, and with the
bonus of an internal rhyme. (Im a sucker for internal rhymes.)
schools, Abilene Christian used the Washington and Lee Swing
for its pep song. When they got to the line, Were gonna
fight, fight, fight for every score, the student body would
join in on the three fights. Well, I upped them one
fight and got a line everyone could remember.
will ever fight, fight, fight, fight.
I was halfway
through and hadnt had to scratch out a line. What next? In
Stouthearted Men, Oscar Hammerstein said: Shoulder
to shoulder and bolder and bolder they grow.
to shoulder, marching along sounded good. But I remembered
my freshman English teacher, Miss Bessie Shook. She told us it wasnt
a sentence unless it had a verb, preferably in the indicative mood
and active voice. So in the struggle between Miss Shook and euphony,
Miss Shook won. The line became:
to shoulder they march along.
do they do as they march? My first thought was, Waving their
banners high. I wrote it down the only line I had to
scratch out. Football players dont wave flags. But more important,
this line would set the rhyme for the last line. What could I say?
Waving their banners high; North Texas do or die? I
didnt think so. Instead of telling what they were doing, why
not describe them?
a purpose true.
Now I could
tell what they were doing. That was easy. They were:
the game for the honor and fame.
internal rhyme and a perfect lead-in to repeat the name of the school
and note those people who were asked to cheer in the first line.
Now we could tell them why ...
Texas State and you.
In no longer
than it took to tell about it, I had written eight lines that were
destined to be repeated more than anything else I would ever write.
On the 50th anniversary
of the adoption of Fight, North Texas, Stroup assigned
the songs copyright to the university. He helped revise the
lyrics after the name of the school was changed to the University
of North Texas.