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‘Ever True’? Few know fight song’s words

Assistant Sports Editor
Friday, September 24, 2010

Click here for lyrics!

Click here for a recording!

Do you consider yourself “Ever True to Brown,” like the title of Brown’s fight song proclaims? And if you do, do you know the words?

If not, you are part of the majority of students, according to Brown Band historian and trumpet player Wendy Kwartin ’11.

“I’d say maybe 5 percent of the school knows it,” Kwartin said. She added that “the farther back you go, the more people know it. The newer people don’t go to games, so they don’t know it.”

Cheerleader Brittany Jokl ’11 said she believes that about 40 percent of the student body knows the song — much more generous than Kwartin’s figure, but still the minority.

This hasn’t always been the case. Back when it was customary for freshmen to wear beanies, they were not allowed to enter the Sharpe Refectory until they sang the fight song and alma mater. The “Vigilance Committee,” a group of upperclassmen, patrolled the campus to ensure that school spirit was high, said Peter Mackie ’59.

Today, there are two versions of “Ever True to Brown” — the traditional, written by Donald Jackson 1909, and the “modern” band version usually played at games. Kwartin said she does not know when the band began singing the modern version.

The traditional lyrics include the line, “You can’t outshine Brown men,” which the band has since changed.

“The ‘and women!’ added in after ‘Brown men’ was added in the late ’60s, after the band became co-ed,” Kwartin said.

The students who actually do know the song “know a mix of the two” versions, Kwartin said. “Some people shout ‘Ki! Yi! Yi!’ because they like that more than ‘rye and a whiskey dry.’ “

“I only vaguely know the modern one,” Jokl admitted. She said the cheerleaders learn the traditional lyrics because knowing the lyrics helps the squad stay on beat during the song.

The lyrics and recordings of both versions can be found on the band’s website,

The Brown football team will play its first-ever night game against Harvard Saturday at 6 p.m. The band will teach the song to students who come to the game, according to Kwartin.

“We play it whenever we score, so hopefully you’ll be hearing it a lot.”

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