All college football teams have infamous fight songs that are adored by that school’s fans and hated by opposing teams everywhere. Some are deep-rooted in history with the school, and others are famous for having a great tune and unforgettable lyrics. Then there are a few that are famous for being hated. The consensus by fans, and undoubtedly opposing players, is that Rocky Top, the University of Tennessee fight song, is the most annoying fight song in the SEC.
Rocky Top was written in the late 1960’s about a simpler way of life in East Tennessee, but was made famous by The Osborne Brothers in the 1970’s. Unbeknownst to many it is not Tennessee’s official fight song, although it has since been adopted as an official state song. Many people confuse it with our real fight song “Down the Field,” because Rocky Top can be played almost continually throughout the game.
“Rocky Top can get played up into the twenties, depending on touchdowns as well,” said former University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland Marching Band member Emily Lupoli. “Some days, I did get sick of hearing it, but never when we were winning!” said Lupoli.
The band plays Rocky Top every time UT scores and before every game as Volunteer players run through the “T” when taking the field. The more times the Volunteers score, the more times opposing teams have to listen to it. She also noted that it always gets played the most during the Alabama game because of their intense hatred of it.
The band begins to practice Rocky Top before the football team returns to training. “Pregame is the first thing that the band practices during band camp, which is usually the first two weeks in August,” says Lupoli. “Rocky Top is one of the first songs that the band as a whole learns to play.”
In addition to perfecting Rocky Top, the band works on other things during the offseason, such as getting their formations down. From spelling out “Vols” to lining up for the “T,” the Pride of the Southland has to get it perfect every time, and they do.
The band also works on developing stamina. “Being in the band is tiring on gameday,” said Lupoli. In addition to performing throughout the game, the band parades before all home games and most road games. “The band usually always marches through the central point of campus everywhere we go,” she said. Those marches through different campuses are a source of great pride for the band, but often draw attention from fans of the opposing team she said.
“When you put on that Pride uniform whether it be the band, colorguard, or majorette, you become a target in orange,” said Lupoli. “Fans will throw stuff at you; try to cut through the band,” exclaimed Lupoli. “The team gets to enter through a different entrance with little fan contact,” she said. “When it comes to opposing teams, the band really catches most of the flack,” she said. “Playing Rocky Top at away games usually only makes it worse, especially if we win. Fans hate to get beaten at home.”
If you talk with a band member, it is clear that the band takes great pride in preserving the game day tradition of Rocky Top. Whether it be coming out of the band’s instruments or the mouths of the fans, Rocky Top always leaves a lasting impression on fans everywhere. As a UT student, I know one thing is for sure: the student section never gets tired of singing along to Rocky Top.ROCKY TOP LYRICS Wish that I was on ole Rocky Top Down in the Tennessee Hills. Ain’t no smoggy smoke on Rocky Top, Ain’t no telephone bills.
Once I had a girl on Rocky Top, Half bear the other half cat; Wild as a mink as sweet as soda pop, I still dream about that. CHORUS Rocky Top, you’ll always be, Home sweet home to me. Good ole Rocky Top, Rocky Top Tennessee. Once two strangers climbed ole Rocky Top, Lookin’ for a moonshine still. Strangers ain’t come down from Rocky Top, Reckon they never will. Corn won’t grow at all on Rocky Top, Dirt’s too rocky by far. That’s why all the folks on Rocky Top, get their corn from a jar. CHORUS I’ve had years of cramped up city life; Trapped like a duck in a pen. All I know is it’s a pity life, Can’t be simple again. CHORUS