Ramblin Wreck song carries long and storied history

The official Tech fight song has a long history. The tune is similar to that of an old English and Irish drinking song by the name of “Son of a Gambolier” by Charles Ives. The lyrics of the Tech fight song have originated from the same drinking song and other college fight songs dating back to the 1800’s. The initial use of Tech’s official fight song is somewhat obscure. While some believe that the song originated from a baseball game against Georgia, others credit Bill Walthall, a member of the first four-year graduating class. According to a 1953 Sports Illustrated article, the song was written in 1893 by a Tech football player en route to a match against Auburn. The song would be adopted as the official fight song in 1905. The song was first published in Blueprint as “What causes Whitlock to Blush.”

The song was initially composed by an early bandmaster by the name of Michael Greenblatt. However, the modern version with trumpet flashes was publicized and later copyrighted by Frank Roman in 1919. Roman is also credited with publishing the “Up with the White and Gold” in 1919 and the modern version of the “Alma Mater” in 1923. Iver Granath helped write the lyrics to the “Alma Mater” and also composed the song “Yellow Jacket Gal.” A similar song by the name of “My Yellow Jacket Girl” was performed at an old Broadway show.

The “Wreck” and “White and Gold” fight songs were first commercially published in 1925 by the Columbia Gramophone Company. The “Ramblin Wreck” was sung by President Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev at their historic meeting in Moscow. In fact, Khrushchev had been introduced to the song through a performance of it on The Ed Sullivan Show. The fight song has also appeared in various movies including The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit and The High and the Mighty. Rumors report that the song was sang by soldiers crossing the English Channel on the morning of D-day. It is believed that “Ramblin’ Wreck” was the first fight song to be sung in outer space.

As reported in a 1998 copy of the Technique, a 19-member Diversity Task Force sought to change the lyrics of the renowned fight song. The proposed changes to the song were submitted on the basis of the song’s proficient allusions to the use of alcohol and the portrayal of women. The task force sought to change the stereotypes of men and women portrayed in the song. Nevertheless, the proposal was dropped due to strong opposition from students and alumni.