By Brenda Day
RIGHT: "Up With Montana" sheet music from 1931, found on eBay.
Below right: Law student Dick Howell, who was credited with writing the fight song.
Griz fans share a special feeling when they rise to sing “Up With Montana” because they know they are part of a century-old tradition. And no matter where UM alumni land, in their hearts they return to Big Sky Country when they hear that tune–which is what happened not long ago to Chuck Thompson ’55.
While watching a Georgia Tech vs. Georgia game, Thompson came to attention when he heard what he described as a “cherished melody.” The Georgia Tech band was playing “Up With Montana.” Well no...it was playing “White and Gold,” which was the same music as our beloved “Up With Montana.”
Curious about the genesis of UM’s fight song, Thompson e-mailed Georgia Tech’s associate band director, who explained that “White and Gold,” the school’s secondary fight song, was the same tune “adopted by The University of Montana as its fight song.”
Thompson then asked his alma mater for help. We sought information from the Mansfield Library’s K. Ross Toole Archives, the music department, Alumni Association, and former UM marching band instructors.
Here’s what the two searches yielded:
• 1931 copyrighted sheet music for “Up With Montana,” purchased on eBay. The song was credited to Dick Howell.
• A Montana Lee Enterprises newspaper Brawl of the Wild publication that credits “law student Richard Howell” with writing the fight song “to commemorate the rivalry” for game number twenty-one between UM and Montana State University, in 1914.
• A 1916 UM Sentinel yearbook listing of events that reads, “Howell’s song ‘Up With Montana, Boys’ is received with enthusiasm.” Richard Howell was a member of Glee Club.
• The UM music department has an old songbook that added a little more information–the 1929 copyright of “Up With Montana” in that book was owned by “ASUM, State University of Montana.”
• The 1998 College Fight Songs II: A Supplementary Anthology includes “Up With Montana” and has this to say: “If you view a map of the United States, there is no doubt that Montana is ‘up.’ ‘Up With Montana,’ or ‘Grizzly Fight Song,’ the sports song of the Grizzlies of the University of Montana in the notable cultural center of Missoula, was published in 1929 by Dick Howell.”
In addition to Georgia Tech’s “White and Gold,” Thompson found two other fight songs with the same tune as “Up With Montana.”
“Up With the Navy” is used by the U.S. Naval Academy with the stated “permission of the University of Montana, the copyright owners.” Sound files for the Navy’s fight song are available on the marching band’s Web site (http://www.usna.edu/USNAband/groups/marchingband.htm), where credits for UM and Howell are listed with the song title.
In addition, “Stanford Jonah,” a University of California, Berkeley, fight song, includes the music of “Up With Montana” and some similar lyrics. UC Berkeley reports that Georgia Tech “may have acquired the tune” after a 1929 Rose Bowl game between the two teams. The UC Berkeley band’s Web site notes: “The tune appears to be unoriginal.” It mentions both the Georgia Tech and the U.S. Navy fight songs, but nothing about “Up With Montana.”
The introduction to the 1998 fight song anthology includes a statement that rings true: “American college fight songs, although often similar and generally having the same underlying purpose of promoting their institutions through music, are products of a large, complex, and often confusing body of cultural material.”
What do you think? Contact the Montanan with any fight song information you may have.
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