The Lost
Fight Songs


Page Two: The Lost Fight Songs
of Northwestern

Page One: Standard School Songs

Page Three: From the Vault

Since their debuts, "Go U Northwestern" and "Push On" have remained a part of the NU marching band's play list.  "Push On" has occasionally waned in popularity, but it never left.  Numerous other original Northwestern fight songs have not had such staying power.  From the turn of the Twentieth Century through the early forties, several other fight songs were NU staples.  Some, like "Northwestern," were relatively short-lived, but influential; others, like "Wild Cats" and "Hail to Our Varsity," (not an original tune) were wildly popular in their day, but now unknown. 

By the mid thirties, "Go U" and "Push On" had claimed their spots as Northwestern's only fight songs (original fight songs, that is.  How can we forget that Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" has been an unofficial fight song since the early seventies?). is pleased to feature some of these "lost fight songs of Northwestern," from the golden age of NU's original fight songs.  I have coded these songs into MIDI files from the earliest available sheet music.  The MIDI files are small in size and very easy to download; however, the sound is somewhat crude (I'm no MIDI expert...).   For some of these songs, the MIDI file represents the first time the tune has been played in generations.  Here are seven songs from NU's fight song heyday that have been lost to obscurity. 

"Wildcat Victory"

It's been ten years since last featured a lost song. Since then, we've received the sheet music to one of the last fight songs to be published during NU's golden age of fight songs: "Wildcat Victory," which debuted in 1939.

Alexander Sweet, a member of Northwestern's class of 1936, wrote "Wildcat Victory" as a victory song, to be performed after a... Wildcat victory. The song was supposed to take its place next to NU's other fight songs. Instead, it quickly dropped out of play.

Wildcat Victory

Hear that great big band play,
Spurring you on your way,
To the field of battle
Onward to the fray,

We know our Northwestern
has a grand old name.
Make us proud to say
we've won another game.

Wildcats, hold that line, hold that line!
Wildcats, now's the time, now's the time!
Drive on, strive on, we must make a score,
For Northwestern as we have before.

Wildcats, throw a pass, throw a pass!
We must win this game.

Fight! Fight!
Fight on, give us another
Wildcat victory.

Stay tuned: later in 2014 HailToPurple will follow "Wildcat Victory," one of the final NU fight songs, with a lost song that is among the very earliest Northwestern songs.

"Wild Cats (The 'Wild Cat' Song)"

Donald Robertson secured his place in NU history by penning "Rise Northwestern" in 1913.  However, this was not the only Northwestern song Robertson wrote; in fact, he wrote many that, when they were first performed, rivaled "Rise Northwestern" in popularity.  Among his successful NU tunes were "Hail Alma Mater True"-- the next song on this page-- "Because We All Like Old NU," "Northwestern Military March," "Fraternity Man," "Mr. Willard Hall," "For I Am a College Man," "Sandwich Day," and the first featured song here, "Wild Cats."

"Wild Cats" was first performed in 1926, less than two years after NU took the Wildcat nickname.  The tune was an overnight success, bumped Robertson's own "Rise Northwestern" as NU's premiere fight song, and was diligently played at every football game along with "Go U Northwestern."  "Go U" eventually regained its own status as the number one fight song, but "Wild Cats" remained a favorite for several more seasons.  By the early forties, however, "Wild Cats" began to slide into obscurity, and never returned to the band's repertoire.

Part of the problem might have been the song's (relatively) inane lyrics.   However, the tune is actually catchy, especially once you've hummed it about a hundred times while coding the damn thing into a midi file.

'Wild Cat' Song

Wild Cats, They're Purple Wild Cats  Yow-ow!
Wild Cats, They're winning Wild Cats  Yow-ow!
Bring your Champions, they're our meat
U Northwestern won't be beat
Stratch 'em, bite 'em, claw 'em, fight 'em
Yow! Yow! Yow! Yow! Yow!
Yow! YOW!

NU's marching band in 1930, performing a formation
that, ahh, we probably won't see again any time soon.

"Hail to Alma Mater True!"

Donald G. Robertson wrote both the words and music to "Hail to Alma Mater True!"  It's uncertain exactly when Robertson penned the song, but he probably wrote it while a student at Northwestern, likely around 1912.  While "Hail to Alma Mater True!" is unfamiliar to today's fans, its influence is definitely present.  The song not only influenced Thomas Tyra, who wrote the English lyrics to the Alma Mater (note the first line of Tyra's lyrics...), it served as the basis for Robertson's next effort at a fight song, "Rise Northwestern."  Notice the similarities of the tune and lyrics of the opening verse of "Hail" compared to the "Push On" verse that precedes the "Rise Northwestern" chorus.

For a while in the late 1910s and early 1920s "Hail to Alma Mater True!" was very popular, and took a place alongside "Go U Northwestern,"  "Quaecumque Sunt Vera," and Robertson's own "Rise Northwestern."  By the time Robertson's last successful fight song, "Wild Cats," started to be played, "Hail" was beginning to fade from use.  This is really a shame-- I personally believe that "Hail to Alma Mater True!" could very well be the best fight song NU has ever had.  That's quite something when one considers the quality of "Go U Northwestern" and "Rise Northwestern" and the
critical acclaim that they receive to this day.  However, "Hail to Alma Mater True!" is a simple and fantastic song.  Listen to the tune and try to imagine NUMB, in full force, playing it from mid-field at halftime.

Hail to Alma Mater True!

Push on along, push on along,
Onward Northwestern U,
Brighten her name
Lead on to fame
Ever strong and true.
With song and shout,
Voices ring out,
We'll make it loud and clear.
Echoes re-sound all the world round
Lead on with a cheer!

Hail Alma Mater true.
Our praises ring for you.
Fling out your proud, purple banner high!
Lead on to win!
We pledge our loyalty.
Push on to victory!
Firm in our stand, we will ever be.
Hail Northwestern U!


"Northwestern" pre-dates "Go U Northwestern" by at least three years, and was likely played at NU's first homecoming in 1911.  Belle McCord wrote the words and music in (approximately) 1909.  The tune, simple and folksy, contains several bars* that clearly influenced the creator of Ohio State's fight song, "Across the Field."  "Across the Field" was penned in 1915, and its author must have been exposed to "Northwestern."  The lyrics, however, were anything but simple.  Overwrought and Star-Spangled-Banner dramatic, they bear the mark of the Romantic poets.

The tune was immediately relegated to "second fiddle" by "Go U Northwestern."  By 1919, it was still played, but very infrequently.  By 1925, McCord's "Northwestern" had slipped from the marching band's repertoire.  For the first time in over 75 years, here it is.


Northwestern!  Northwestern!  Every hilltop sounds her fame,
Ev'ry wave her murmur'd name.  Send the purple on before!
Back it with a hundred more!  Shout!  Shout!  the war cry out!
Victory is ours before we win!

Northwestern!  Northwestern!  Daughters fair and sons all brave,
Dauntless on the land or wave.  "Quaecumque sunt vera," shout;
Of her triumph never doubt!  Sing!  Sing!  let heaven's arch ring!
Regal old Northwestern to the fore!

Northwestern!  Northwestern!  Classic fortress on the lake,
Nothing shall your ramparts shake.  Let each soldier proudly ride,
With the purple at his side!  Sound!  Sound!  on all sides 'round!
Old Northwestern's sons go forth to win!

Northwestern!  Northwestern!  Shout her name along the line,
Let her blazoned purple shine!  Proudly high her banner raise!
Wake the vaults of heaven with praise!  Strike!  Win!  let war begin!
Ne'er a traitor foe shall breathe her name!

Northwestern!  Northwestern!  Western freedom brought her forth,
Wed with valor of the North.  To defend her honored name,
Regal splendor, classic fame.  Fight!  Fight!  with all your might!
Let her haughty foes be named no more!

*Compare the music during the first verse's lyrics, "Shout!  Shout!  the war cry out!" with Ohio State's music during "Hail!  Hail!  the gang's all here!"


"A Northwestern Battle Cry"

Before there was Homecoming, before there was Northwestern Field, there was "A Northwestern Battle Cry."  Written by Shelby Harrison and John Rosborough in 1904, it is the one of the earliest NU fight songs to feature original music and lyrics.  It was also one of the first songs performed by the official NU Marching Band, organized just the year before.

Exactly when "Battle Cry" fell out of the band's play list is not certain, but by the mid twenties it definitely was no longer being played.  Here is "A Northwestern Battle Cry," a long-lost NU fight song over a century old.

A Northwestern Battle Cry

Sing out, ring out, cheers for the purple!
Let voice and drum echo afar;
All hail thee!   Northwestern!
Thou art our crowning star.

Then give a rah, rah, rah!
Here's to warriors bold, hurrah, rah, rah,
And cheer, cheer, cheer, fighting along,
With a hurrah, rah, rah,
We swell our battle cry
With cheering and song, cheering and song.

"The Grand Old Game"

Before NU's classes staged the Waa-Mu musical reviews, they performed an annual review at the Ravinia festival site north of campus.  The Ravinia reviews were called The Purple Domino.  The Purple Domino of May 1911 was written by seniors Gerald Row and Rufus Blount, and was written at the height of the Golden Age of fight songs.  Most of the music written for that year's Purple Domino focused on events of the day on campus (similar to today's Waa-Mu), and two of the songs were about NU football.

One of these two songs, "The Grand Old Game," caught on and became a staple of campus songs, played well into the thirties.  (The other song, "For the Honor of Old Northwestern," is featured below)

The music, penned by Blount, is very dated and has a strong "old timey" feel, but is nonetheless a very good tune.  Unfortunately, Row's lyrics, with the exception of one mention of "the Purple," are mostly generic and forgettable.

The Grand Old Game

In the early spring
Politely sing of baseball, golf and track;
Along with June
Please change your tune
When tennis has come back;
But verily, right merrily
The pigskin's glory tell;
Don't sing at all
About football: Stand up,
Stand up and yell

It's a grand old game;
It's a grand old game;
The very name sets hearts aflame.
Just thinking of football;
For it's a grand old game;
It's a grand old game!
No sport is there
Can e'er compare
With the grand old game.

When the crowd is on
The bleachers and the team is on the field;
The wind blows like
A blizzard, and
Our blood is half congealed;
The Purple makes a touchdown, Oh!
Then maybe we are tame
And maybe we don't all yell then that it's
The grand old game!

"For the Honor of Old Northwestern"

The other football song from the May 1911 Purple Domino show was  "For the Honor of Old Northwestern."  Unlike "The Grand Old Game," "For the Honor"  fell into obscurity almost immediately after the 1911 performance.

Rufus Blount wrote the music, which resembles bar tunes from the time.  Row's lyrics are notable because they actually mention a fact specifically pertaining to NU's team: the December 1905 disbanding of the varsity team which lasted two years.  This is the only known NU fight song to make any reference to a specific event.

For the Honor of Old Northwestern

In the year of Nough-ty Five
Of course you know it all
The trustees and the faculty
Came out against foot-ball.

But things have changed around now
And everyone is gay.
The Purple will be heard from,
The grand old game we'll play.

For the honor of Northwestern,
Is the burden of our lay;
We're proud of Old Northwestern,
And we show it ev'ry day.

She is our Alma Mater
And to her we'll all be true;
We'll do our share, Yes, ev'ry-where.
For the honor of Old N.U.

In the chilly Autumn
When foot-ball days begin
We'll see the Purple on the field
Prepared to fight and win.

We'll see the Purple banners,
That on the breezes swell.
And when the team goes down the field,
The crowd takes up the yell!