MONMOUTH — For the first time in roughly 44 years, Western Oregon University once again has lyrics to its fight song, thanks to the efforts of Ike Nail.
The lyrics have been on paper but unapproved for a few years, said Nail, associate professor of music and the band and orchestra director at WOU.
The lyrics were unveiled to more than 100 students in the Werner University Center Plaza on Thursday during WOU’s homecoming week activities.
School songs and fight songs are important to help students, parents and alumni connect to a school, Nail said.
“There has to be some way to express your loyalty,” he said. “I couldn’t find anything, so over about a couple of weeks I really tried to figure out what I thought a fight song really should be like.”
Combative, but simple, Nail said, are some requirements of a good fight song.
“When you’re singing them, it’s not like you’re in Carnegie Hall,” he said. “You’re outside. And I thought it was possible that somebody slightly under the influence might be trying to sing this.”
Three of the four verses start out, “Fight Wolves, Fight!”
“If you can just sing that, at least you’re making a contribution,” Nail said.
It’s in the second verse that singers of the new fight song can express loyalty to Western, Nail said.
“Strength of our pack is in each wolf; strength of the wolf is in each pack!” The phrase is inspired from Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “The Law of the Jungle,” where Kipling outlines the laws of the wolf pack.
The melody for the fight song is one of the best in the state, Nail said.
“It’s peppy, not very complicated,” he said. “It’s a very good fight song. It’s not complicated. It’s not very sophisticated, but it’s rousing and it really does the job.”
It may get stuck in your head, but Nail said he hopes it’s not one of those annoying songs that you wish you could get out of your head.
Western Oregon used to have a whole book of songs, each with various purposes. One song was for the president, “To President Landers.” “Senior Pep Song” was for the Class of 1928.
The first record of songs at Western Oregon are from 1927, when the first Pep Club was organized. By the 1970s, the Pep Club was no longer a campus club.
Many of the earlier songs were written by Laura Taylor, the department director for the Health and Physical Education, who developed the school’s May Day celebrations, said Jerrie Lee Parpart, archives and exhibits coordinator at Hamersly Library.
“The college handbooks and the Todd Hall Hello books from the 1920s through the 1960s have cheers and yells printed that are to be sung to various tunes,” she said.
Nail had read some of these old lyrics to the fight song, but wasn’t satisfied that they represented today’s Western Oregon Wolves.
“We’ve got a team that’s on the go; we’re No. 1 and everybody’s going to know,” he started, reciting some of the lyrics from the old fight song. “It seemed really ’60s or ’70s. I just pretended I didn’t ever see those.”
To help students, alumni and parents learn the words, Ollie Bergh, WOU sophomore, lead chants and songs at Saturday’s homecoming football game.
The song will be recorded and shown to incoming freshmen, Nail said.
“We’ll have it ready to use for new student orientation so we can get everybody up to speed before they get their feet on the ground at Western,” he said.
To view a video of Thursday’s pep rally, go online to www.polkio.com.
Sing Along …
Lyrics to the new Western Oregon University fight song:
Fight Wolves, fight for Western Oregon!
Fight for the red and black!
Strength of our pack is in each wolf; strength of the wolf is in each pack!
Fight Wolves, Fight for Western, fight for the pack! You glorify our name!
Fight Wolves, Fight for Western Oregon and win this game!