Ketch's 10 Thoughts From the Weekend (Let's just talk about it 2.0...)

mbeyer44

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Does the dislike of singing this song by players really have more to do with what the song represents? As in the song represents the State of Texas, the largest conservative state in the country, all the history of this state for good and bad, etc.
I find that more believable than the story of a minstrel show from over 100 years ago that none of us ever saw.
 
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wfoot

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The people who say they have no racist inclinations often couldn't see the inclinations if it was right in their face.

As to some that may apply, but it certainly does not apply to all. I have spent a great deal of my pro bono time and money in attempts to eliminate racism, sexism and other forms of blights on our society. Trying to characterize "The Eyes" as racist in 2020 is a far reach, one that takes away emphasis on other far more important issues.
 
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Reaper1

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He didn't win Texas.
That revisionist history?

He won Texas by 9%

53.2% to 42.2%

You need a nap or something?

Go ahead and your liberal progressivism Ketch. We all know.

Was that your effort at changing/ erasing history?
 

Reaper1

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ketch, cmon man. You’re effectively saying many white folks are too stupid to even know they’re racist. That’s a bit over the line.

The simple fact is that the lyrics of the song have nothing to do with race. You can admit that and still support the fact that blacks may feel racial undertones because of the song’s origin in the minstrel show.
"A BIT" over the line?

Actually it's a racist comment.
 
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Dualthreat

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The people who say they have no racist inclinations often couldn't see the inclinations if it was right in their face.

So NOW it's not enough that The Eyes of Texas IS NOT RACIST.

And NOW it's not enough that we Texas fans ARE NOT RACIST.

Now we have to some how convince YOU / ATHLETES that not only are we not racist, but we can recognize our own unrecognized racism.

According to YOUR belief system that it's right in OUR faces?

tenor.gif
 
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imcclintic

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How much more discussion or debate about this GD song are we going to have? If we are looking to come together as a community, I can’t think of another thing that gets 100+K people standing in unison than singing that song. But now because some body says it’s origin is based in black face and minstrels or whatever we are supposed to abandon it? What you are missing is the fact that all this nonsense is only further driving a wedge between people. Now you are going to have people standing or not standing for the ****ing school song. Are you kidding me? If you go to any school below the Mason Dixon, especially in the SEC, you can find the same kind of BS. Do you see players from Bama or Auburn or LSU pulling this stuff? If not supporting racist history was so important to these athletes, then they would never attend a school in the south ever again and the SEC would implode.
Exactly. The left is all about dividing us not unifying us.
 
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Dualthreat

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You’re effectively saying many white folks are too stupid to even know they’re racist. That’s a bit over the line.

The simple fact is that the lyrics of the song have nothing to do with race. You can admit that

Doesn't appear he can admit either one of these facts.

I'm astonished. I mean it.
 
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imcclintic

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Not playing The Eyes after a game is a complete nonstarter.

Full stop.
You realize we’re damned if we do and damned if we do. These players have killed support for Texas football for years to come. It can never be the unifying force it once was. It’s 1984 and leftist politics has killed football.
 

imcclintic

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You realize we’re damned if we do and damned if we do. These players have killed support for Texas football for years to come. It can never be the unifying force it once was. It’s 1984 and leftist politics has killed football.
Damned if we don’t
 

Dos Horns

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Agree. And I have a beloved family member who falls into that category.

Most do, regardless of race. Racism is an unfortunate part of the human condition, and it has many more facets than just black vs white in our new country. It’s tribal in its origins, and so is slavery. People of all races have been enslaved throughout history. Sad, but you can’t change history, only the future.
 

Coach_Bass

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It's not going away. I'll be singing it after each game, win or lose, as I have for 6 decades, since I was a child.

Essentially my entire family is alums (and more) of The University of Texas. None are racist.

Most of us have sang the song in ignorance of its history. However the song is definitely tainted now since this “new” information has come out about its origins. Taking a look at the facts, and please tell me if I have them wrong, the president of the university took a quote from a man who is widely known as racist, changed it along with a few students and thought it was a good idea to repeatedly perform it was during blackface shows, which are inherently racist. The song was literally birthed out of a racist performance. The tradition of this racist performance carried the song until it grew out of the original racist context and into the hearts and minds of fans and alumni like us. Now I'm not going to go as far as calling you a racist and you have every right to sing what you want.....However, I think you could at least understand why people (black athletes in particular) would find the song problematic.
 

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1906 Rio Grande

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Texas has not won one football game because fans stay after the game to sing. It requires players. The song is going to go. Just get over it.

Because wins are everything. Can’t have a good college education without sports wins. Can’t have a good life without sports wins. Sheesh.
 

MEP1992

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Coach_Bass

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Do you realise that I have never even seen a minstrel show? I was born in 1977.

Again, you are taking the stance, on this issue, that culture and people cannot evolve over time. On other issues, you rightly point out that those things can and do evolve. The meaning of this song has been unrelated to race for something like 8 decades before I was born.

Now you are telling me the song as racial undertones, that the meaning of the song is something other than pride and love for UT. But that's not what the song means to me. It's not what the meaning has been for over 100 years.

What matters more: that the song's current day meaning (for over 100 years) is something pure, and positive, and inclusive. Or that 117 years ago that might not have been the case?

Just a quick question, if culture and people can evolve over time, then why can't a song be changed again? Isn't starting a new tradition evolution? The important fact is that what the song means/represents to you may not be what the song means/represents to other people. You mention it is something pure, positive and inclusive but it has not been viewed as that for all people. Also, the song has been protested and argued against as recently as 2018, which is not 117 years ago. Now the money question is what should be done? I'm not particularly attached to the school song in anyway but I respect people like you who are and value your views. In my opinion, it almost seems as though people who share your thoughts view the song as a huge part of their life and if you remove/change it, part of their life is being attacked. From that angle, I can see why people are so passionate of keeping the song. On the other hand, even if you disagree, I hope you can at least understand if someone feels as though that song was born in a racist performance and some of that racist degradation is still taking place, how it could potentially affect them differently.
 

Coach_Bass

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I guarantee you from first hand experience that UT student govt debating sonething certainly does not elevate it. They debate alot of silly things, that I can assure you.

Maybe so, but the fact remains the discussion was had then just as it is being discussed now because of student and faculty criticisms. Whether it is silly, racist or something in between is what we are all trying to figure out.
 

Coelacanth

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It’s going to be a disaster that will fracture the fanbase.

It already has, no matter what happens from this point on.
 

Dualthreat

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Taking a look at the facts, and please tell me if I have them wrong, the president of the university took a quote from a man who is widely known as racist, changed it along with a few students and thought it was a good idea to repeatedly perform it was during blackface shows, which are inherently racist. The song was literally birthed out of a racist performance. The tradition of this racist performance carried the song until it grew out of the original racist context and into the hearts and minds of fans and alumni like us. Now I'm not going to go as far as calling you a racist and you have every right to sing what you want.....However, I think you could at least understand why people (black athletes in particular) would find the song problematic.

The Eyes of Texas was NOT written by President Prather of the University.

Lewis Johnson (student manager for musical performances on the UT campus / Varsity Band member / University Chorus member) and fellow band member John Lang Sinclair (Cactus Yearbook Editor / regular contributor to the University of Texas Literary Magazine) wrote the original version, titled Jolly Students of the 'Varsity, in May 1902.

Music (and inspiration) came from the nationally-known tune, Jolly Students of America. Johnson contacted the composer in Detroit for permission to use the music, while Sinclair re-fashioned the words and extended the song to six verses.

The Jolly Students was introduced (birthed) at a NON-MINSTREL concert in late May 1902, and was instantly popular with UT students. In March 1903 John Lang Sinclair tried to improve the song and wrote the following second version:

They watch above you all the day, the bright blue eyes of Texas.

At midnight they’re with you all the way, the sleepless eyes of Texas.

The eyes of Texas are upon you, all the livelong day.

The eyes of Texas are upon you. They’re with you all the way.

They watch you through the peaceful night. They watch you in the early dawn,

When from the eastern skies the high light, tells that the night is gone.

Sing me a song of Texas, and Texas’ myriad eyes.

Countless as the bright stars, that fill the midnight skies.

Vandyke brown, vermillion, sepia, Prussian blue,

Ivory black and crimson lac, and eyes of every hue.

Set to the tune “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” Johnson and Sinclair prepared the song so it could be performed by the Varsity Quartet at its next show in May, NOT A MINSTREL PERFORMANCE (this is now the second non-minstrel performance). As the work progressed, the two decided to make the song a spoof on UT President William Prather, and Sinclair made some significant revisions to the words.

Prather was known as a boring speaker. Prather borrowed and changed the words from a saying of Washington College in Virginia President Robt. E. Lee. Lee's phrase was "the eyes of the South are upon you", reminding students that they were the leaders of the future. Prather changed it to "the eyes of Texas are upon you", conveying to students that they were the leaders of Texas' future. The phrase was well received, Prather used it repeatedly, the students noticed, and began to make fun of Prather for it. Prather was NOT a racist and the phrase had NO racist meaning.

The third performance of the evolving "The Eyes of Texas" was a Varsity minstrel show scheduled for Wednesday evening, May 12, 1903. Leading off the show was an overture by the Varsity Band, followed by songs titled Oh, The Lovely Girls, Old Kentucky Home performed by the University Chorus or student soloists. The latest version made fun of Prather, but continued the pattern of being NON-RACIST:

I once did know a President, a way down South, in Texas.

And, always, everywhere he went, he saw the Eyes of Texas.

The Eyes of Texas are upon you, all the livelong day.

The Eyes of Texas are upon you, you cannot get away.

Do not think you can escape them, at night or early in the morn –

The Eyes of Texas are upon you, ’til Gabriel blows his horn.

Sing me a song of Prexy, of days long since gone by.

Again I seek to greet him, and hear his kind reply.

Smiles of gracious welcome, before my memory rise,

Again I hear him say to me, “Remember Texas’ Eyes.”

Prather never uttered the phrase "The eyes of Texas are upon you" with a racist meaning, OR at a Minstrel show.

The Eyes of Texas was not birthed out of a racist performance. It had no racist meaning. It was performed on multiple occasions during its evolution. A single one of those occasions (the 3rd) was a University minstrel show.

Your version of the facts (@Coach_Bass misses the mark widely, as I understand it.

The Eyes of Texas


Above: The University of Texas campus in the early 1900s.

In the spring of 1902, Lewis Johnson was the student manager for just about every musical performance on the campus. Between classes, he played tuba in the Varsity Band, directed the University Chorus, and arranged for concerts on the Forty Acres. Most were in the 1,500 seat auditorium of the old Main Building, but in late March, Johnson wanted to try something new, and introduced a series of “Promenade Concerts.” Starting at 7p.m., the band strolled along the walk that circled the campus and played a variety of overtures, waltzes, and new marches by a popular composer named Sousa. The crowd followed along, listened, clapped, danced, and occasionally sang. A roving party, the concerts were a great success. “This promises to be the most popular entertainment ever provided for ‘Varsity people,” declared the Texan student newspaper.



Among the songs UT students sang were well-known college favorites, among them Fair Harvard, and Princeton’s Old Nassau. But the University had no song to call its own, for years a sore topic regularly discussed in the student newspapers. Though not a composer himself, Johnson decided to find a way to create one.

He first contacted alumni known to have literary talent, and hoped to recruit a volunteer to write a UT song, but received only polite refusals. Not one to give up easily, Johnson turned to his fellow students, specifically to fellow band member John Lang Sinclair. Sinclair was an editor of the Cactus yearbook, a regular contributor to the University of Texas Literary Magazine, and was widely known as the campus poet. Sinclair resisted at first, but Johnson continued to pester.

One evening in early May 1902, Johnson and Sinclair were returning from a comic opera performance in downtown Austin, when they stopped at Jacoby’s Beer Garden, just south of the campus on Lavaca Street. Johnson brought up the topic of a UT song once again and, perhaps with the help of Mr. Jacoby’s ales, Sinclair finally acquiesced to Johnson’s requests. They went to Sinclair’s room on the second floor of old Brackenridge Hall – popularly called “B. Hall,” the University’s first residence hall for men – stayed up all night, and finished the verses for Jolly Students of the ‘Varsity.

Music (and inspiration) came from the nationally-known tune, Jolly Students of America. Johnson contacted the composer in Detroit for permission to use the music, while Sinclair re-fashioned the words and extended the song to six verses. The chorus was:

For we are jolly students of the ‘Varsity, the ‘Varsity!

We are a merry, merry crew.

We’ll show the chief of all policemen who we are

Rah! Rah! Rah!

Down on the Avenue.

In the 1900s, the term ” ‘varsity ” was a contraction of the word “university.” In the Lone Star State, students who attended ‘Varsity, were understood to be enrolled in the University of Texas, while those studying at the “College” were in the A&M College of Texas (as Texas A&M was then called). In the chorus, the Avenue referred to Congress Avenue downtown.

The Jolly Students was introduced at a concert in late May, and was instantly popular with UT students. But Johnson felt the song still lacked a distinct Texas identity. The following spring he prodded Sinclair to try again.

In March 1903, while Johnson waited in line at the University Post Office in the old Main Building, Sinclair arrived with a grin, quietly handed Johnson a folded scrap of brown paper torn from a wrapped bundle from Bosche’s Laundry in downtown Austin, and left. (Photo at left.) On it, scribbled in pencil with scratched-out lines and corrections, was the first draft of a poem:

They watch above you all the day, the bright blue eyes of Texas.

At midnight they’re with you all the way, the sleepless eyes of Texas.

The eyes of Texas are upon you, all the livelong day.

The eyes of Texas are upon you. They’re with you all the way.

They watch you through the peaceful night. They watch you in the early dawn,

When from the eastern skies the high light, tells that the night is gone.

Sing me a song of Texas, and Texas’ myriad eyes.

Countless as the bright stars, that fill the midnight skies.

Vandyke brown, vermillion, sepia, Prussian blue,

Ivory black and crimson lac, and eyes of every hue.

Before Johnson read the last line, he knew Sinclair had produced something for the University that would last long after their time as students had passed. Set to the tune “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” Johnson and Sinclair prepared the song so it could be performed by the Varsity Quartet at its next show in May. As the work progressed, the two decided to make the song a spoof on UT President William Prather, and Sinclair made some significant revisions to the words.

Prather (photo at right) was a UT regent who was surprised by his fellow regents when they chose him to lead the University in 1899. He’d attended Washington College in Virginia (now Washington and Lee University), and often heard its president at the time, Robert E. Lee, tell his students, “Remember, the eyes of the South are upon you,” as he reminded them that they were the leaders of the future.

Prather particularly liked this phrase, though apparently his talent for public speaking wasn’t popular with everyone. When Prather was tapped to be president, regent Russell Cowart wrote to his colleague, Tom Henderson, about the possibility of an inauguration ceremony for Prather: “I can see no reason why there should be any inauguration … I am afraid that the Dear Col. might inflict not only us but a suffering audience with a speech like the one he paralyzed us with when he came and was notified of his selection [to be president].” A ceremony was held anyway, and Prather concluded his talk with a plea to the students, “Always remember, the eyes of Texas are upon you.”

The speech was so well received, Prather decided to get all he could of it and ended most of his talks with the same phrase. The students, of course, picked up on it immediately, and it became an ongoing campus joke to chant, “Remember, the eyes of Texas are upon you!” at sporting events, concerts, and just about every social occasion. Prather took the good-natured kidding as it was intended. He knew that, at the least, the students were listening to him.

A Varsity minstrel show was scheduled for Wednesday evening, May 12, 1903, in the Hancock Opera House on West Sixth Street, and was packed with music, dances, skits, and even a tumbling act. Proceeds from the show would pay for the University Track team to attend the All-South Track and Field Competition in Atlanta.

Leading off the show was an overture by the Varsity Band, followed by songs titled Oh, The Lovely Girls, Old Kentucky Home and The Castle on the Nile performed by the University Chorus or student soloists. The fourth piece listed on the printed program was cryptically labeled a “Selection” by the Varsity Quartet.

With President Prather sitting in the audience, four students: Jim Kivlehen, Ralph Porter, Bill Smith and Jim Cannon, accompanied by John Lang Sinclair on the banjo, took the stage and unleashed Sinclair’s creation:

I once did know a President, a way down South, in Texas.

And, always, everywhere he went, he saw the Eyes of Texas.

The Eyes of Texas are upon you, all the livelong day.

The Eyes of Texas are upon you, you cannot get away.

Do not think you can escape them, at night or early in the morn –

The Eyes of Texas are upon you, ’til Gabriel blows his horn.

Sing me a song of Prexy, of days long since gone by.

Again I seek to greet him, and hear his kind reply.

Smiles of gracious welcome, before my memory rise,

Again I hear him say to me, “Remember Texas’ Eyes.”

Before the first verse was finished, the crowd was in an uproar. By the end of the song, the audience was pounding the floor and demanding so many encores that members of the quartet grew hoarse and had to sing We’re Tired Out. The Varsity Band learned the tune, and the following evening included The Eyes on its Promenade Concert around the campus.

(The earliest recording of The Eyes of Texas was made in 1928 by the Longhorn Band. Listen to it – as well as the first recording of “Texas Fight” – here.)

Prather, though, had the last laugh. Less than a month after the minstrel show, on June 10th, spring commencement ceremonies were held in the auditorium of Old Main. Prather made his farewell speech to the senior class, and turned the joke back on them. “And now, young ladies and gentlemen, in the words of your own poet, remember that the eyes of Texas are upon you.” The seniors gave Prather a standing ovation, and the University of Texas had a song it could call its own.

And the UT track team won the All-South meet in Atlanta, it’s first victory in a regional competition.

@jtchorn
 
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Ketchum

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As to some that may apply, but it certainly does not apply to all. I have spent a great deal of my pro bono time and money in attempts to eliminate racism, sexism and other forms of blights on our society. Trying to characterize "The Eyes" as racist in 2020 is a far reach, one that takes away emphasis on other far more important issues.
I didn't say it applied to all. I said it "often" applied.
 
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Coelacanth

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The Eyes of Texas was NOT written by President Prather of the University.

Lewis Johnson (student manager for musical performances on the UT campus / Varsity Band member / University Chorus member) and fellow band member John Lang Sinclair (Cactus Yearbook Editor / regular contributor to the University of Texas Literary Magazine) wrote the original version, titled Jolly Students of the 'Varsity, in May 1902.

Music (and inspiration) came from the nationally-known tune, Jolly Students of America. Johnson contacted the composer in Detroit for permission to use the music, while Sinclair re-fashioned the words and extended the song to six verses.

The Jolly Students was introduced (birthed) at a NON-MINSTREL concert in late May 1902, and was instantly popular with UT students. In March 1903 John Lang Sinclair tried to improve the song and wrote the following second version:

They watch above you all the day, the bright blue eyes of Texas.

At midnight they’re with you all the way, the sleepless eyes of Texas.

The eyes of Texas are upon you, all the livelong day.

The eyes of Texas are upon you. They’re with you all the way.

They watch you through the peaceful night. They watch you in the early dawn,

When from the eastern skies the high light, tells that the night is gone.

Sing me a song of Texas, and Texas’ myriad eyes.

Countless as the bright stars, that fill the midnight skies.

Vandyke brown, vermillion, sepia, Prussian blue,

Ivory black and crimson lac, and eyes of every hue.

Set to the tune “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” Johnson and Sinclair prepared the song so it could be performed by the Varsity Quartet at its next show in May, NOT A MINSTREL PERFORMANCE (this is now the second non-minstrel performance). As the work progressed, the two decided to make the song a spoof on UT President William Prather, and Sinclair made some significant revisions to the words.

Prather was known as a boring speaker. Prather borrowed and changed the words from a saying of Washington College in Virginia President Robt. E. Lee. Lee's phrase was "the eyes of the South are upon you", reminding students that they were the leaders of the future. Prather changed it to "the eyes of Texas are upon you", conveying to students that they were the leaders of Texas' future. The phrase was well received, Prather used it repeatedly, the students noticed, and began to make fun of Prather for it. Prather was NOT a racist and the phrase had NO racist meaning.

The third performance of the evolving "The Eyes of Texas" was a Varsity minstrel show scheduled for Wednesday evening, May 12, 1903. Leading off the show was an overture by the Varsity Band, followed by songs titled Oh, The Lovely Girls, Old Kentucky Home performed by the University Chorus or student soloists. The latest version made fun of Prather, but continued the pattern of being NON-RACIST:

I once did know a President, a way down South, in Texas.

And, always, everywhere he went, he saw the Eyes of Texas.

The Eyes of Texas are upon you, all the livelong day.

The Eyes of Texas are upon you, you cannot get away.

Do not think you can escape them, at night or early in the morn –

The Eyes of Texas are upon you, ’til Gabriel blows his horn.

Sing me a song of Prexy, of days long since gone by.

Again I seek to greet him, and hear his kind reply.

Smiles of gracious welcome, before my memory rise,

Again I hear him say to me, “Remember Texas’ Eyes.”

Prather never uttered the phrase "The eyes of Texas are upon you" with a racist meaning, OR at a Minstrel show.

The Eyes of Texas was not birthed out of a racist performance. It had no racist meaning. It was performed on multiple occasions during its evolution. A single one of those occasions (the 3rd) was a University minstrel show.

Your version of the facts (@Coach_Bass misses the mark widely, as I understand it.

The Eyes of Texas


Above: The University of Texas campus in the early 1900s.

In the spring of 1902, Lewis Johnson was the student manager for just about every musical performance on the campus. Between classes, he played tuba in the Varsity Band, directed the University Chorus, and arranged for concerts on the Forty Acres. Most were in the 1,500 seat auditorium of the old Main Building, but in late March, Johnson wanted to try something new, and introduced a series of “Promenade Concerts.” Starting at 7p.m., the band strolled along the walk that circled the campus and played a variety of overtures, waltzes, and new marches by a popular composer named Sousa. The crowd followed along, listened, clapped, danced, and occasionally sang. A roving party, the concerts were a great success. “This promises to be the most popular entertainment ever provided for ‘Varsity people,” declared the Texan student newspaper.



Among the songs UT students sang were well-known college favorites, among them Fair Harvard, and Princeton’s Old Nassau. But the University had no song to call its own, for years a sore topic regularly discussed in the student newspapers. Though not a composer himself, Johnson decided to find a way to create one.

He first contacted alumni known to have literary talent, and hoped to recruit a volunteer to write a UT song, but received only polite refusals. Not one to give up easily, Johnson turned to his fellow students, specifically to fellow band member John Lang Sinclair. Sinclair was an editor of the Cactus yearbook, a regular contributor to the University of Texas Literary Magazine, and was widely known as the campus poet. Sinclair resisted at first, but Johnson continued to pester.

One evening in early May 1902, Johnson and Sinclair were returning from a comic opera performance in downtown Austin, when they stopped at Jacoby’s Beer Garden, just south of the campus on Lavaca Street. Johnson brought up the topic of a UT song once again and, perhaps with the help of Mr. Jacoby’s ales, Sinclair finally acquiesced to Johnson’s requests. They went to Sinclair’s room on the second floor of old Brackenridge Hall – popularly called “B. Hall,” the University’s first residence hall for men – stayed up all night, and finished the verses for Jolly Students of the ‘Varsity.

Music (and inspiration) came from the nationally-known tune, Jolly Students of America. Johnson contacted the composer in Detroit for permission to use the music, while Sinclair re-fashioned the words and extended the song to six verses. The chorus was:

For we are jolly students of the ‘Varsity, the ‘Varsity!

We are a merry, merry crew.

We’ll show the chief of all policemen who we are

Rah! Rah! Rah!

Down on the Avenue.

In the 1900s, the term ” ‘varsity ” was a contraction of the word “university.” In the Lone Star State, students who attended ‘Varsity, were understood to be enrolled in the University of Texas, while those studying at the “College” were in the A&M College of Texas (as Texas A&M was then called). In the chorus, the Avenue referred to Congress Avenue downtown.

The Jolly Students was introduced at a concert in late May, and was instantly popular with UT students. But Johnson felt the song still lacked a distinct Texas identity. The following spring he prodded Sinclair to try again.

In March 1903, while Johnson waited in line at the University Post Office in the old Main Building, Sinclair arrived with a grin, quietly handed Johnson a folded scrap of brown paper torn from a wrapped bundle from Bosche’s Laundry in downtown Austin, and left. (Photo at left.) On it, scribbled in pencil with scratched-out lines and corrections, was the first draft of a poem:

They watch above you all the day, the bright blue eyes of Texas.

At midnight they’re with you all the way, the sleepless eyes of Texas.

The eyes of Texas are upon you, all the livelong day.

The eyes of Texas are upon you. They’re with you all the way.

They watch you through the peaceful night. They watch you in the early dawn,

When from the eastern skies the high light, tells that the night is gone.

Sing me a song of Texas, and Texas’ myriad eyes.

Countless as the bright stars, that fill the midnight skies.

Vandyke brown, vermillion, sepia, Prussian blue,

Ivory black and crimson lac, and eyes of every hue.

Before Johnson read the last line, he knew Sinclair had produced something for the University that would last long after their time as students had passed. Set to the tune “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” Johnson and Sinclair prepared the song so it could be performed by the Varsity Quartet at its next show in May. As the work progressed, the two decided to make the song a spoof on UT President William Prather, and Sinclair made some significant revisions to the words.

Prather (photo at right) was a UT regent who was surprised by his fellow regents when they chose him to lead the University in 1899. He’d attended Washington College in Virginia (now Washington and Lee University), and often heard its president at the time, Robert E. Lee, tell his students, “Remember, the eyes of the South are upon you,” as he reminded them that they were the leaders of the future.

Prather particularly liked this phrase, though apparently his talent for public speaking wasn’t popular with everyone. When Prather was tapped to be president, regent Russell Cowart wrote to his colleague, Tom Henderson, about the possibility of an inauguration ceremony for Prather: “I can see no reason why there should be any inauguration … I am afraid that the Dear Col. might inflict not only us but a suffering audience with a speech like the one he paralyzed us with when he came and was notified of his selection [to be president].” A ceremony was held anyway, and Prather concluded his talk with a plea to the students, “Always remember, the eyes of Texas are upon you.”

The speech was so well received, Prather decided to get all he could of it and ended most of his talks with the same phrase. The students, of course, picked up on it immediately, and it became an ongoing campus joke to chant, “Remember, the eyes of Texas are upon you!” at sporting events, concerts, and just about every social occasion. Prather took the good-natured kidding as it was intended. He knew that, at the least, the students were listening to him.

A Varsity minstrel show was scheduled for Wednesday evening, May 12, 1903, in the Hancock Opera House on West Sixth Street, and was packed with music, dances, skits, and even a tumbling act. Proceeds from the show would pay for the University Track team to attend the All-South Track and Field Competition in Atlanta.

Leading off the show was an overture by the Varsity Band, followed by songs titled Oh, The Lovely Girls, Old Kentucky Home and The Castle on the Nile performed by the University Chorus or student soloists. The fourth piece listed on the printed program was cryptically labeled a “Selection” by the Varsity Quartet.

With President Prather sitting in the audience, four students: Jim Kivlehen, Ralph Porter, Bill Smith and Jim Cannon, accompanied by John Lang Sinclair on the banjo, took the stage and unleashed Sinclair’s creation:

I once did know a President, a way down South, in Texas.

And, always, everywhere he went, he saw the Eyes of Texas.

The Eyes of Texas are upon you, all the livelong day.

The Eyes of Texas are upon you, you cannot get away.

Do not think you can escape them, at night or early in the morn –

The Eyes of Texas are upon you, ’til Gabriel blows his horn.

Sing me a song of Prexy, of days long since gone by.

Again I seek to greet him, and hear his kind reply.

Smiles of gracious welcome, before my memory rise,

Again I hear him say to me, “Remember Texas’ Eyes.”

Before the first verse was finished, the crowd was in an uproar. By the end of the song, the audience was pounding the floor and demanding so many encores that members of the quartet grew hoarse and had to sing We’re Tired Out. The Varsity Band learned the tune, and the following evening included The Eyes on its Promenade Concert around the campus.

(The earliest recording of The Eyes of Texas was made in 1928 by the Longhorn Band. Listen to it – as well as the first recording of “Texas Fight” – here.)

Prather, though, had the last laugh. Less than a month after the minstrel show, on June 10th, spring commencement ceremonies were held in the auditorium of Old Main. Prather made his farewell speech to the senior class, and turned the joke back on them. “And now, young ladies and gentlemen, in the words of your own poet, remember that the eyes of Texas are upon you.” The seniors gave Prather a standing ovation, and the University of Texas had a song it could call its own.

And the UT track team won the All-South meet in Atlanta, it’s first victory in a regional competition.

@jtchorn
Link?

Or is that yours?
 

wfoot

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I didn't say it applied to all. I said it "often" applied.

As I think about this more, I remain certain that "The Eyes" in 2020 is not a racist song, has no racist connotations. But if it begins to be part of making up for 300 years of slavery, discrimination, lynchings and Jim Crow laws, then let it go. It is just a song about a concept, an idea, while the viciousness of the discrimination was, still is to some extent, real. I can do without the song if it helps with the essential healing process.
 
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Coelacanth

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Eldorado
I didn't say it applied to all. I said it "often" applied.
So along this same line of thought, we can imagine a scenario where the players refuse to sing and are booed by many of the fans, and then the players get asked for their response after the game.

The players will surely say that the booing is proof of the racism they face every day.

Thereafter, anyone singing the song or failing to support the player protest we be automatically assumed to be racist.

If monsters cannot be found, we will create them out of thin air.

Then we will fight them and call it virtue.
 

Dualthreat

Sign SIX Damn OL every year. That's my solution.
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Mar 14, 2007
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I can do without the song if it helps with the essential healing process.

What about those of us for whom loss of The Eyes of Texas is injurious? We don't matter?

We are supposed to sacrifice a song we love because of a racist song that wasn't racist?

Is that your idea of a fight for "justice"?

Non existent racism in a song plus having it taken from us against our will equals justice for somebody?

Two wrongs equal a right?
 
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