The controversial University of Utah fight song looks to be closely based on an old fraternity song.
A history of "Utah Man" collected by the U.’s Marriott Library is unclear on the song’s authorship, at one point theorizing that fraternity brothers may have written it in response to a 1901 song contest sponsored by The Daily Utah Chronicle, since a fraternity song and "Utah Man" are both set to the folk tune "Soloman Levi."
But others said the writer was early-1900s football coach Joe Maddock.
"There’s always been two speculations, that it was either the football coach, then there was always a thought that it did come out of the fraternity, but we could never really substantiate that, exactly," said Marriott Library archivist Clint Bailey.
Despite at least two copyright inquiries, it doesn’t look like the U. ever tried to copyright the song, and it doesn’t appear administrators were aware that it tracked the Sigma Chi song so closely.
"We’ve spent quite a bit of time looking into this stuff, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t miss something," Bailey said.
The lyrics to the fraternity song are almost identical aside from the name of the fraternity, its colors and the signature yell.
"My name is Sigma Chi" is one of about 40 songs posted on the Sigma Chi website, which says it was written by Charles H. Eldridge in 1885.
The Sigma Chi song also contains the line: "Oh we drink our stein of lager and we smoke a big cigar," which was part of "Utah Man" until the middle of the past century, when it was changed to "our coeds are the fairest."
That line, though, could now change again. Student and faculty government leaders called on U. President David Pershing last month to make the words more inclusive.
Pershing agreed to consider changes, and a school committee is taking public comment at the email address firstname.lastname@example.org through Saturday. The panel is expected to recommend potential updates by the end of June.
Here are the lyrics as posted on the Sigma Chi and University of Utah websites:
My Name is Sigma Chi
My name is Sigma Chi, sir, and I live across the green,
Our gang, it is the jolliest that you have ever seen;
Oh we drink our stein of lager and we smoke a big cigar,
Our yell, you hear it ringing thro’ the country near and far.
Oh, who am I, sir, I’m a Sigma Chi,
Sigma Chi, sir, will be till I die. Hey!
We’re up to snuff, we never bluff, we’re game at any fuss,Next Page >
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