Music of College Football

We’re just days away from the kickoff of the 2010 NCAA football season.  And I can hear it in the air.  The college football game and all it entails from the tailgate to the pageantry to the rivalries is a cultural phenomenon unmatched around the globe.  A significant part of the phenomenon is the music that comes with it.  But its more than the marching bands.  So here is Jesus’ totally incomplete and completely biased list of the Music of College Football.  It isn’t meant to be comprehensive and all the songs are personal for me, so feel free to add your songs in the comments.  So without further ado in no particular order,

1. Keep on Rockin in Free the World- Neil Young: This is a staple of the Memorial Stadium soundtrack.  Every Saturday morning this song would be blaring from the speakers as the fans filed in (all 407 of them- it was way too early and Illinois sucked).  While its an awesome song (ranked #214 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time) I’m not really sure what the songs subject matter (social problems of late 20th century America) have to do with Illinois football.  My best guess, “the free world” is the field when Illinois is on defense, and the opponent is most certainly going to “keep on rockin”.

2. Start Me Up- The Rolling Stones: Quite fittingly this song would be played at Memorial Stadium right before the start of the second half.  Usually when the Illini would be taking the field to at least some deficit, most likely double digits.  Don’t mind the first half when the team really needs to get going, let’s wait until the damage is done before we start up the offense or the defense for that matter.  I never understood this one.  Just simply move it to before the start of the game or scrap it from the playlist.  What poor timing.

3. William Tell Overture- Rossini: An Illinois tradition from the Marching Illini.  Wrap your arms around the shoulders of the people sitting next to you, hop left and right on one leg, bang the shit out of the bleachers in front of you, all while keeping your hungover ass from falling and taking the entire row with you.  I wasn’t a full participant in this “routine”, I generally halfassed it, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless.  It happened a few times a game, but it was never as good as the first time around.

4. Rocky Top- Osbourne Brothers: Nothing reminds me of Tennessee Orange and my hate for that school more than this song.  Growing up in Kentucky with Tennessee as UK’s biggest conference rival, I heard this song a lot each season when the Wildcats and Vols faced off.  The Vols have dominated this series my entire life.  In fact the Wildcats never beaten Tennessee in my lifetime.  They are 25-0.  And most of those games were beat downs, so “Rocky Top” played early and often.

5. True Blue: Ryan Parker: But not to be outdone, the Wildcats have their own tune.  Besides the crazy loyalty that is so obvious in this ballad, the ridiculous history that is recalled in the form of song is fabulous.  And simply put their are some wacky events that take place in this trip down memory lane.  My favorite, of course, is 2002 when the Wildcats thought they had upset the LSU Tigers.  Their coach was doused in Gatorade.  Fans were storming the field, even hanging on the goal posts to bring them down.  Except the final play was still developing and LSU completed a crazy Hail Mary for a game winning touchdown (not to mention which I predicted).  But don’t worry, I’ll be there when the win the SEC.

Honorable Mention: Crazy Train- Ozzy Osbourne (seriously, go to a college football game and if the band doesn’t play this song I want to know)

So there is my very personal and incomplete list.  Put yours in the comments!


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