The Lost Fight Songs of NU:
Go U Northwestern

by GoUPurple

One of the more entertaining historical projects occasionally featured was The Lost Fight Songs of NU,  which looked at some of the school songs Northwestern used at a point in its history, but are now forgotten or obscure.  Surprisingly, there are a lot of old fight songs that NU performed but are no longer used.  Click here for the Lost Fight Songs page.

For this ten-year retrospective, we're taking a look at perhaps the least-expected of all the "lost" fight songs: "Go U Northwestern." 

Why should "Go U Northwestern" be on the Lost Fight Songs list?  It happens that, unknown except to perhaps some of the geekiest of the band geeks, "Go U Northwestern" has an entire section of music that is now never played.

It is not known now how Theodore Van Etten's original fight song sounded in 1912, when he wrote it and it was first performed.  By 1919, however, there were two versions of the song: a shorter version, with which we are all familiar (chorus, interlude, chorus), and a full version that included a piece of intro music.

The Northwestern Song Books, hard bound copies of all the fight songs, school songs, and class songs popular at the time, were first published in the 1880s. The song books that came after the creation of "Go U Northwestern" show the shorter version.

However, loose sheet music from the time shows the whole song, including the intro piece.  Click here to see the sheet music (the top two pages are the intro, the bottom two pages are "Go U" as we know it).

I don't know why the intro was eventually dropped, but I can guess: it's awful.  The surviving portion of "Go U Northwestern" is a great fight song that stands up to a century of play.  The intro piece, however, is really dated and would guarantee to put all but the most hardcore fan to sleep before kickoff.

Care to hear it?  Great!  Here, from deep in the HailToPurple vaults, are two versions of the fight song with the intro piece. 

The first version was recorded by NUMB in February 1929.  It just might be one of the oldest recordings of NUMB to survive.  This version actually starts out with the familiar portions (chorus and interlude) of "Go U," then uses the intro piece, and then concludes with the proper portion of "Go U" for a B-A-B song structure:

Here is another version, recorded by bandleader Dell Lampe in the fall of 1929.  This version has an A-B structure, starting out with the intro piece, and proceeding to the familiar portion (similar to the sheet music referenced above).

It''s not clear when NU dropped the intro piece from "Go U."   It likely did not last too long into the 1930s.  Certainly, by the time John Paynter took over NUMB, the intro was gone, and the full version of "Go U Northwestern" had become one of the lost fight songs of NU.