(COVINGTON, La.) — The “St. Paul’s Fight Song”: one of a catchy beat, unifying words, and a fluctuating tempo, at least to the current student body. Throughout the years, the song has gradually been sped up by students, particularly towards the end, and some members of the St. Paul’s community are calling for change.
“I am pleased that they have turned the music down (to sing the fight song at President’s Assemblies) to let the mob run with it,” art teacher and former Marching Wolves drum major Andrew Dart said. “It is consistently bad. If we could spend five minutes during an assembly (to) teach 900 boys what tempo is and how to keep it… that would work wonders.”
The origins of the tempo fluctuation may have been in jest, but Dart says that its effects are now far-reaching.
“The eighth graders now, all they know is the sped-up tempo,” Dart said. “They think that is the fight song. They do not think that is a joke, they think that is really what happens.”
Another alumnus, campus minister Jeff Ramon, thinks that the new tempo may help student participation.
“What I like about the sped-up tempo is that it is exciting, and everybody gets really in to it,” Ramon said. “(There is a) risk-reward of (upping) the excitement but (losing) the value of the tempo.”
Some students believe that the risk has taken its toll, and that the way that students interpret it currently is here to stay.
“I think it will never be fixed,” senior Brandon Eberts said. “It is literally 800(+) kids that purposely clap off-beat because they think it is funny. I think that people should do it right.”
Dart agrees that there is a need for an upped tempo, but not at the expense of losing musical integrity.
“I think there is a happy medium out there somewhere,” Dart said. “If you go back to the original tempo, you probably lose (the excitement).”
Bro. Don Mouton, FSC, who wrote the “St. Paul’s Fight Song,” says that it means much, considering it was central to the rebuilding of the band program and the success that athletics was beginning to achieve during that time.
“I wrote the song in 1957,” Bro. Don said. “I had Bro. Joseph Vigil, an accomplished harmonica player, play it several times for me until I was satisfied…I wanted the words of the song to show that the name and honor, both on the field and floor, would characterize the entire school spirit and tradition of St. Paul’s.”
Bro. Don did not envision the song having the longevity it maintains when he first wrote it.
“When I attended a St. Paul’s football game some fifteen years ago and saw that the fight song was still being used, I was quite surprised and flattered,” Bro. Don said. “I am happy to know that it is still around.”
The song’s evolution is something that Bro. Don both encourages and is proud of.
“While I was at St. Paul’s, I was happy to see the band gradually get more members, and, thus, (do) a better job with the fight song,” Bro. Don said. “Over the years, other band directors improved on the musical arrangement and accompanying colorful marching swagger.”
“When we came here, there was just melody and a bass line,” Moran said. “It was bastardized by students (re)arranging it. We added proper harmonies to fill out the song. The biggest thing we did was create the fanfare (as an intro to the song).”
As someone that played a part in making the “St. Paul’s Fight Song” what it is today, Moran agrees that students need to realize the words that they sing represent the pride and legacy of the school.
“I do not think they’re doing it on purpose, but it is (disrespectful towards) what the song is,” Moran said. “They have goofed around with it so much that it has become habit.”
Junior band member August Latapie shares the view that students may not know what they are doing when they edit the song.
“After the Blue Ribbon (Award) Ceremony, someone said, ‘Y’all messed up the fight song.’ They said that the band was supposed to stop halfway through (the song) to let the students take over,” Latapie said. “Unless they are in the band or have…musical experience, they probably should not tell a band full of musicians how to play the school fight song.”
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Has it gotten that bad? Decide by checking out this video of the student body singing the “St. Paul’s Fight Song” at the President’s Assembly on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, and cast your vote in the poll below.