Harvard's Fight Song Among the Best

Published by Madeleine Smith on October 10, 2010 at 3:11AM

The rustling of newly fallen leaves may be an iconic sound of fall, but it certainly isn’t the only one.

Every year when this season finally comes around, college fans rejoice as the sounds of their fight songs take over football stadiums across the country.

As a school that clings to tradition, it’s easy for us to understand how a few notes, combined with roaring crowds, heated competition, and fierce school pride, can turn into a ritual.

While the Crimson’s “Ten Thousand Men of Harvard” may not inspire quite the same electric atmosphere as those songs of lore like USC’s “Fight On” or Ohio State’s “Buckeye Battle Cry,” it has nonetheless earned its place in the history of Harvard athletics.

In fact, the song, written by A. Putnam ’18 has also earned its place on several lists of  “Top College Fight Songs.”

Although the most recent rankings mock it for being more likely to incite a sing-along at a Nobel Prize committee meeting than a football stadium, the “decorum and tradition” are undeniable, warranting it the No. 8 spot on one set of rankings.

Other lists herald “Ten Thousand Men” for the fact that “all Harvard freshmen learn it within the first few weeks of being on campus.” (It’s a nice thought, but we may have to disagree.)

Unfortunately, cross-town rival Boston College’s “For Boston” has us beat in most rankings and claims the title of oldest collegiate fight song in America (written in 1885).

But not to worry – the Crimson’s tune beats out that of any other Ivy League school, as Cornell is just barely mentioned at the end of one list on account of a rumor that it inspired the adoption of the lion as MGM’s mascot.

Take advantage of the next chance to join in the band’s rendition of “Ten Thousand Men” at next weekend’s football game against Lehigh at Harvard Stadium.

But you weren’t one of the freshmen that learned it your first week here? Learn it now: http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/~hub/sounds/tenthou.shtml.