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Stanford Jonah: The Mystery Continues Part I

You are reading this because you are a Cal sports fan.  Or an Oregon fan surveying your property.  Or really bored and googling things are random (and we welcome you from  Either way, there is a slight chance you care about things that don't revolve around those ever so delightful Odwalla Races!  One of those things is the various aspects to Cal spirit.  We've been trying to take a closer look at some of history of some Cal spirit.  For example, last year, former cannoneer Yes We Cannon took us on a magical mystery tour of the Gameday Cannon (Part I, Part II).  A lot of people didn't know the history of the cannon and were happy to learn more about it.

We're hoping that you receive today's post about the history of the fight song "Stanford Jonah" similarly.  Many of you probably don't care too much about Stanford Jonah.  You couldn't hum the tune were you asked.  You don't know who this Jonah gentleman is and why we care about him.  However, there is some very interesting history here that relates to Rose Bowls, USC arrogance, and even the 1972 US Presidential race.  Before we go forward, listen to Stanford Jonah here:


Before we jump, listen to this song, "Up With White And Gold" from the Georgia Institute Of Technology marching band.  Yes, that's right, from GaTech:

If you are confused as to why they sound so similar, join the club.  Did Cal steal the song from GaTech?  Did GaTech take it from us?  And what is basketball coach Mike Montgomery's former employer, the University of Montana doing in all this?  Let's take a closer look after the jump.

So far, you can see that there is a clear relationship between Stanford Jonah and Up With White And Gold.  It would make sense that one was written, then at some point the writing school gave the song to the non-writing school.  And as we will talk about in Part II of this series, Cal did meet Georgia Tech in one of the most unique football games of all time, the 1929 Rose Bowl.  So, in theory, whichever school originated the song could have given it to the other school at that very game.  That would make sense.  Which is why it is great that both schools claim to have written the song well before said Rose Bowl.  

The always accurate Wikipedia notes as follows (without any clear cites):

The Stanford Jonah is a fight song of the University of California, Berkeley written in 1913 by Ted Haley as an entry into a song contest held by the Daily Californian.

The Cal Band Alumni site always reflects this information:

"The Stanford Jonah" was written in 1913 by Ted E. Haley for the annual song contest, but the song unfortunately lost to Williams’ and McLaren’s "Big C." "The Stanford Jonah" got its break in 1914, however, when the Glee Club traveled to Europe. The Glee Club learned the song en route, and performed it during their tour. As a result, "The Stanford Jonah" became popular and won the annual song competition that year.

So, in 1913, a gentleman named Ted Haley wrote Stanford Jonah and entered into a song writing contest held by the Daily Cal.  It lost to Big C (later to be stolen, yes, stolen, by UCLA, which is a story for a whole 'nother time).  Tough competition.  So, that's the claimed birth of Stanford Jonah, well before the 1929 Big Game.

As for Up With White And Gold, we have two notes here.  The first comes from the GaTech library itself.  That link goes to a description of a box full of sheet music for GaTech fight songs from 1900-1953.  One of those songs is "Up With White And Gold."  The library site states the following regarding the song:

In addition to the arrangement of "Rambling Wreck," Frank Roman is also credited with two other famous Tech songs dating from the 1920s, the "Alma Mater" (published in 1923) and "Up with the White and Gold" (first published in 1919).

Here is another reference to the recording of  "Up With White And Gold."  It is from a GaTech alumni website.  In discussing, briefly, the history of GaTech's white and gold color scheme, it states:

Song written and arranged by Frank Roman in the 1920’s to commemorate the colors called "Up With the White and Gold

So, GaTech is claiming that Mr. Frank Roman wrote and published "Up With White And Gold" as early as 1919.  We actually contacted the GaTech library and got a copy of this document.  We can't reprint it due to copyright concerns, but Goldblooded will discuss it in further detail in this post and in Part II.

GaTech's version is published after Cal claims that Mr. Haley wrote "Stanford Jonah" in 1913, but well before the 1929 Rose Bowl.  Did Mr. Haley and Mr. Roman talk about this at some point.  Nobody has any idea about that.  We do know that Cal and GaTech met in the 1929 Rose Bowl.  And we know that Cal's glee club took the song on a cross-country/European trip, which Goldblooded will discuss in further detail later.  We contacted the GaTech SBN site From The Rumble Seat to discuss this matter further and see what they had.  They provided us with interesting documents that shed further light on this matter (which can be further found here).  They also have their own post up on this matter right now, which you should go read and enjoy. 


This is a copy of the front page of the The Technique, which discussed Georgia Tech matters of the day (and might still).  It is tough to see, but if you click on it you can take a closer look.  It states in the 4th paragraph of the story entitled "Freshman Welcomed" that people were singing "Up With White And Gold."  It is dated October 2, 1917.  So, a song with that name at the very least existed as of 1917.


This document is a copy of a page from the yearbook, The Blueprint.  It is from 1916 and has what appears to be a copy of the lyrics to the song.  Since it was published in 1916, it could have been in existence as early as fallfo 1915.


You'll see that the yearbook has some of the lyrics to the song.  Let's now take a closer look at the lyrics to Stanford Jonah and Up With White And Gold:

The Lyrics to Stanford Jonah:

So then it's up with the Blue and Gold,
Down with the Red; red, red, red
California's out for a victory,
We'll drop our battle axe on Stanford's head; chop
When we meet her, our team will surely beat her.
Down on the Stanford farm, there'll be no sound,
When our Oski rips through the air.
Like our friend Mister Jonah, Stanford's team will be found,
In the tummy of the Golden Bear.

The lyrics for Up With White And Gold:

Oh well it's up with the White and Gold,
Down with the Red and Black,
Georgia Tech is out for a victory.
We'll drop the battle-axe on Georgia's head,
When we meet her our team is sure to beat her.
Down on the old farm there will be no sound
Till our bow-wows rip through the air;
When the battle is over Georgia's team will be found
With the Yellow Jackets swarming around!

Looking at this, it seems more likely that the lyrics stemmed from the Cal side.  There is a reference to dropping an axe on the opposing team's head.  Well, certainly, we all know that Cal and Stanford have the Axe as a trophy in their rivalry game.  Further, there is a reference to a farm.  We all know that Stanford's nickname is the Farm.  To be fair, at the time that this was written there were many farms in the area around GaTech, but still.  Based off of the lyrics, it is more circumstantial evidence that Cal gave GaTech "Stanford Jonah."

Interestingly enough, there are a few changes from the 1916 version to the more modern version.  They added "and black" to Down with Red.  This is only further indication that it came originally from Stanford Jonah, insomuch as they had to add University of Georgia's second color later (which is different from Stanford's white second color).

"From Coach Heisman's field" turns into "Down on the old farm." This seems to be turning it closer towards the Cal version, so maybe it does indicate that Cal's version came later, I don't know.  He coached at Georgia Tech until 1919, going 7-3 during the 1919 season, so perhaps after he left they decided to remove his name.  However, they would have had to copyright the 1919 version of the Up With White And Gold song in the last few months of 1919 to have published it after he left, so who knows?

"Kick offs" turns into "bow-wows."  I don't know what that means in specific. 

Rambling Wreck

Another piece of circumstantial evidence is that we have one of GaTech's songs as a fight song!  And not just any fight song.  We have Rambling Wreck.  We call it The Cardinals Be Damned and, for some reason, a Fresno State website discusses it:

The Cardinals Be Damned
The tune is "The Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech."




I won't reprint the lyrics here, because they seem fairly X-rated.  But you can read it in the link there.  So, if GaTech gave us a song, wouldn't it follow that we gave them something in return? 

My good man, Goldblooded, has taken an interest in this matter and has more to say on the topic.  Let's hear from him!

Goldblooded:  Well, my dear TwistNHook, I'll have to rain on your parade. Song switching may have taken place at the 1929 Rose Bowl, but it didn't seem to be where we got Georgia Tech's songs, nor where they got ours.

As a man who listens to a lot of Styx and has "Too Much Time on [his] Hands", and a nice PT job very near campus, I've been doing a lot of snooping, namely in musty old books and microfilm. I've uncovered several interesting facts about both Jonah and GaTech songs, but nothing on Montana, unfortunately.   As a biased Cal fan, I am automatically a horrible Cal historian. Regardless, I'll present my facts and let you edit out my own opinions.

Firstly, some more background information, as if your eyes weren't tired enough. There are a few important players aside from the two you already met at the beginning of the post. From the excellent 2007 publication "Songs of California", I learned that the source of the above Wiki information was none other than Clinton ‘Brick' Morse. Morse is famous for many things at Cal, among them being the authoring of the song "Sons of California" and leading the Glee Club for many years. It was Morse who was acting director on the aforementioned tour to Europe in 1914, about which he wrote- "Ted Haley went to Europe with the Glee Club in 1914. Before we went, Ted wrote ‘The Stanford[sic] Jonah' which we learned and sang on the trip." With this quote, we have a reliable, definitive date for the initial seeding of the song across the country and the Atlantic.

In the microfilm archives of old Daily Cals, I've discovered that the Glee Club stopped at several campuses to give joint concerts along their way to New York, the departure point for Europe. The included stops were: Reno, Winnemucca, Elko (NV), Ogden, Salt Lake City, Omaha, Council Bluffs, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, Rome (NY), and New York City. All of these concerts provided plenty of stops for Jonah to be heard by many different Glee Clubs and their respective audiences.  From The Rumble Seat indicated to us that the people who wrote the 1919 song were, in fact, in the GaTech Glee club.  So, it is potentially likely that there was mixing at that time!

The music itself is somewhat telling. I was able to obtain copies of the 1919 and 1929 publications of "White and Gold" as well as a 1923 version of "Jonah". As Twist mentioned above, the lyrics seem to fit Cal's traditions much more closely. The differences are even more apparent when the 1919 version of the lyrics is considered (bold emphasis indicating differences from the modern version, and underlined emphasis indicating differences from the
1929 publication):

Oh well it's up with the White and Gold,
Down with the Red and Black,
Georgia Tech is out for a victory.
We'll drop the battle-axe on___ (her) head___,
When we meet her our team is sure to beat her.
Down on old ___ farm there'll be no sound
Till, our bow-wows rip through the air;
When the battle is over___ team will be found
With the Yellow Jackets swarming around!

The earlier publication of the song seems to include underscores, which are either placeholders to allow for the use of multiple opposing teams, or, (my biased opinion) indicative of the fact that the song was hastily stolen and then later gradually modified to fit the bill of rival Georgia.  Compare these multiple, gradual edits to the one-time edited Jonah, which consisted of changing a single word in the intro from "when" to "and", as in the line "And there's music in the air". That's correct, Jonah's been edited only once since it was first published (not penned) in 1923, and not even in the section of the tune in question.

As for how University Of Montana's version fits in here, I have no idea.  But we have enough just dealing with Cal and GaTech, so we'll deal with that some other time.  What are your thoughts on this?  Do you think GaTech originally wrote it?  Do you think Cal did?  We'll have Part II regarding the 1929 changes soon.  GO BEARS!