Each year when the BCS National Championship game rolls around, we at The Modern Spectator like to turn some of our attention away from the game-plan and onto the sousaphone. We love a sousaphone, and we love the strangely persistent tradition of college marching bands.
This year’s match-up pits the Florida Gators band against the Pride of Oklahoma. We’ve discussed the Gators before when they faced Ohio State, and the Sooners have a lot in common with the Buckeyes. They have classic militaristic uniforms with poofy hats, and a solid red and white color scheme. They’ve also got an old band with a great tradition of marching in wild formations like the smiley face pictured.
The Sooners band, though, did not begin as a military marching club like many others. It started in 1901 when some locals got together to play songs for the football team. In a few years the school had its own band. Sometime after that they latched on the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical number, which lended itself well to the idiom.
They’ve also got an old-school fight song, Boomer Sooner, with a classic rhyme: I’m a Sooner born/ And a Sooner bred,/ And when I die/ I’ll be Sooner dead.” We love it when a fight song mentions death, and not the enemies’ death but our own future death. Unfortunately, according to Wikipedia, these lyrics are lifted from the UNC Tarheels song. But then sampling is at the heart of all great popular music. (For more Sooners fight songs, click here, and for more band videos, click here).
It’s a tough call.
Although Florida won the game, Oklahahoma’s band was the clear victor as far as televised half-time performance goes. Their marimba-heavy rendition of “Pinball Wizard” was excellent, and their walking sideways in formation could not have been more fluid. The Gators tried a jazzy thing that left me confused.
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