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'Utah Man' looks almost identical to 1885 frat song

Published May 31, 2014 4:26 pm

University of Utah • Fight song's lyrics very close to those of "My Name is Sigma Chi."
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

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 fightsong@utah.edu 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.

(Chorus)

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,

No other gang in college dares to meet us in a muss;

So fill your lungs and sing it out and shout it to the sky,

The Blue and Gold forever, I'm a loyal Sigma Chi! Hey!

And when we prom the avenue, all lined up in a row,

Then arm in arm and step in time as down the street we go;

And no matter if a freshman green or in a senior's gown,

The people all admit we are the warmest gang in town.

(Chorus)

We may not live forever on this jolly good old sphere,

But while we do we'll live a life of merriment and cheer;

And when our little day is done and night is drawing nigh,

With parting breath we'll sing the praise of good old Sigma Chi.

(Chorus)

Utah Fight Song

Utah Man

I am a Utah man, sir, and I live across the green.

Our gang, it is the jolliest that you have ever seen.

Our coeds are the fairest and each one's a shining star.

Our yell, you hear it ringing through the mountains near and far.

(Chorus)

Who am I, sir? A Utah man am I; A Utah man, sir, and will be till I die; Ki!Yi!

We're up to snuff; we never bluff,

We're game for any fuss,

No other gang of college men

dare meet us in the muss.

So fill your lungs and sing it out and

shout it to the sky,

We'll fight for dear old Crimson,

for a Utah man am I.

(Chorus)

And when we prom the avenue, all lined up in a row,

And arm in arm and step in time as down the street we go.

No matter if a freshman green, or in a senior's gown,

The people all admit we are the warmest gang in town.

(Chorus)

We may not live forever on this jolly good old sphere,

But while we do we'll live a life of merriment and cheer,

And when our college days are o'er and night is drawing nigh,

With parting breath we'll sing that song:

"A Utah Man Am I".

(Chorus)

lwhitehurst@sltrib.com

Twitter: @lwhitehurst