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

Coach_Bass

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@Dualthreat I appreciate the response because my version does seem a bit different than yours. I stand corrected about who wrote the song as it appears Sinclair originally wrote it for Johnson and they revised it together. However, according to the UT article the first song "The Jolly Students" doesnt even include the "Eyes of Texas" nor the "ive been working on the railroad" tune. I'm not sure if I would go as far as to call it their inspiration. Once they did create the "eyes of texas" lyrics and tune, in your article it says they prepared the song so it could be performed by the Varsity Quartet at its next show in May.....the article goes on to say on May 12th (of that same year) the song was played by the Varsity Quartet. Unless you're assuming they had a May performance by the Varsity Quartet sometime between May 1st and May 12th (which I guess is possible), it seems the first time the truest form of the song was played was in blackface. Now I'm not for or against changing the song. Tbh I don't think the song itself is racist. However, I do accept that the historical context in which it was presented can play a role in how the song is perceived.
 

o5prey

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I literally just came from a Facebook exchange between two former players / and the African American player was saying the meaning of the song was about "chasing slaves" - I wish we could hear the actual accusations that the current players have somewhat as a collective against the song.....because there are some that I would say are founded - and some that could be completely unfounded..... and my support of their request would depend a great deal on which it was
 
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Longhorn71

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Since Ketch and others are so concerned that the Eye's might have racist beginnings, should the University eliminate the teaching of evolution because Darwin was a racist?

What other subjects and books need to be eliminated?
 
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ZLonghorn99

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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.

People, and their cultures, do change and evolve over time. Our song is going away.

I’m upset because I am being force fed a new definition of the song’s meaning. It has meant something very positive to me for as long as I have known the song. I’ve stated in this thread, that I don’t want black members of our community to feel as if the song in any way demeans their culture, their family, or their ancestors. I want the song to UNIFY us in support of our university. That’s what the song has always meant to me. I understand now that the song has not meant that for everyone, but I would prefer a healthy dialogue to be honest about the song’s apparent origin 117 years ago, but also what the song’s meaning has evolved into over the last century. That’s not going to happen, I’m afraid. It’s just going to go away.

I know you disagree with me, but I appreciate you doing so in a civil manner, so we can actually discuss the issue. Hook ‘em.
 

Dualthreat

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@Dualthreat I appreciate the response because my version does seem a bit different than yours. I stand corrected about who wrote the song as it appears Sinclair originally wrote it for Johnson and they revised it together. However, according to the UT article the first song "The Jolly Students" doesnt even include the "Eyes of Texas" nor the "ive been working on the railroad" tune. I'm not sure if I would go as far as to call it their inspiration. Once they did create the "eyes of texas" lyrics and tune, in your article it says they prepared the song so it could be performed by the Varsity Quartet at its next show in May.....the article goes on to say on May 12th (of that same year) the song was played by the Varsity Quartet. Unless you're assuming they had a May performance by the Varsity Quartet sometime between May 1st and May 12th (which I guess is possible), it seems the first time the truest form of the song was played was in blackface. Now I'm not for or against changing the song. Tbh I don't think the song itself is racist. However, I do accept that the historical context in which it was presented can play a role in how the song is perceived.

NOWHERE in the article does it specify that any of the performers of any of the versions of The Eyes of Texas were in blackface in any of the performances.

That is your assumption at this point, as far as I can tell.

An assumption I do not share.

It is arbitrary and incorrect to judge the 3rd performance the first true performance.

Further, concerning minstrelsy generally:

"Views on slavery were fairly evenly presented in minstrelsy" (1).

"Some songs even suggested the creation of a coalition of working blacks and whites to end the institution (slavery)"
(2).

1. Cockrell, Dale (1997), Demons of Disorder: Early Blackface Minstrels and their World, Cambridge University Press / Cambridge Studies in American Theatre and Drama, ISBN 978-0-521-56828-9. Pg. 187, Note 111.

2. Cockrell, Dale (1997), Demons of Disorder: Early Blackface Minstrels and their World, Cambridge University Press / Cambridge Studies in American Theatre and Drama, ISBN 978-0-521-56828-9. Pg. 146.
 
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McGavern

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Sorry if already brought up, as I have not read many of these pages, but since we are discussing songs/things that are or were racist, can we please eliminate the "N" word from existence? It makes no sense to me that it is ever still in use and mainly used by the race that it was instilled to denigrate.
 

Dualthreat

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I literally just came from a Facebook exchange between two former players / and the African American player was saying the meaning of the song was about "chasing slaves"

That is completely unfounded (and outrageous). Ask him for source documentation.

Send them this link:
https://jimnicar.com/ut-traditions/the-eyes-of-texas/

The truth will set us free.

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.
 
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js724124

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Sorry if already brought up, as I have not read many of these pages, but since we are discussing songs/things that are or were racist, can we please eliminate the "N" word from existence? It makes no sense to me that it is ever still in use and mainly used by the race that it was instilled to denigrate.
And while at it how about “cracker”, “honkey”, “redneck”, “spic”, “wop”, “kraut”, etc. etc. etc. they are all equally racist.
 
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wfoot

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I literally just came from a Facebook exchange between two former players / and the African American player was saying the meaning of the song was about "chasing slaves" - I wish we could hear the actual accusations that the current players have somewhat as a collective against the song.....because there are some that I would say are founded - and some that could be completely unfounded..... and my support of their request would depend a great deal on which it was


Maybe it was about chasing slaves when it related to working on the levy, but it sure as hell has nothing to do with chasing slaves in 2020. These youngsters are getting some very bad, skewed advice.
 

Coach_Bass

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NOWHERE in the article does it specify that any of the performers of any of the versions of The Eyes of Texas were in blackface in any of the performances.

That is your assumption at this point, as far as I can tell.

An assumption I do not share.

It is arbitrary and incorrect to judge the 3rd performance the first true performance.

Further, concerning minstrelsy generally:

"Views on slavery were fairly evenly presented in minstrelsy" (1).

"Some songs even suggested the creation of a coalition of working blacks and whites to end the institution (slavery)"
(2).

1. Cockrell, Dale (1997), Demons of Disorder: Early Blackface Minstrels and their World, Cambridge University Press / Cambridge Studies in American Theatre and Drama, ISBN 978-0-521-56828-9. Pg. 187, Note 111.

2. Cockrell, Dale (1997), Demons of Disorder: Early Blackface Minstrels and their World, Cambridge University Press / Cambridge Studies in American Theatre and Drama, ISBN 978-0-521-56828-9. Pg. 146.

This is such an interesting discussion because while we both don't see the song itself as being racist, we have differing views about the context.

My question is do you really believe that in the early 1900s, a minstrel show in Texas wasn't in blackface?

Your wikipedia quoted paragraph mainly depicts "white, working class northerners" but I wanted to check out the book you mentioned as well (it turns out you can read it online via archive.org which is pretty cool). On page 146 it says "the texts from black face songs from 1828-1840 were filled.... with the debate on slavery" then on page 147 it says that "By the mid 1840s....blackface had become more a form of gross mockery". Your other quote (pg 187 note 111) supports this in context as it says "the same number of early blackface ministrels opposed slavery as supported it." Emphasis on early. This is a fact I did not know previously so really good education there. Somewhere around the 1840s it took a sinister turn.

You say third performance, I say first. That first song "Jolly Students" is nothing like the "Eyes of Texas" because again it doesn't have the same lyrics or melody. This is where I don't understand your point. I guess we'll never agree on that but that's okay. I appreciate the discussion.
 

Dualthreat

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My question is do you really believe that in the early 1900s, a minstrel show in Texas wasn't in blackface?

As opposed to ASSUMING it was, when blackface isn't mentioned a single time in the source document about the event? Yes.

As opposed to assuming that every performer in every performance was in blackface? Yes.

I suppose you can research it further.

varsity-band.jpg


The picture of the Varsity band I have is this one. For all I know it was taken that evening before the performance.
 
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Dualthreat

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You say third performance, I say first. That first song "Jolly Students" is nothing like the "Eyes of Texas" because again it doesn't have the same lyrics or melody.

That's entirely irrelevant. It was the same two people pursuing the same outcome throughout the versions of the song, and its performance.

They didn't suddenly decide to write a racist anthem in the 3rd version. That's absurd, and untrue.
 
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Coach_Bass

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As opposed to ASSUMING it was, when blackface isn't mentioned a single time in the source document about the event? Yes.

As opposed to assuming that every performer in every performance was in blackface? Yes.

I suppose you can research it further.

varsity-band.jpg


The picture of the Varsity band I have is this one. For all I know it was taken that evening before the performance.

That's entirely irrelevant. It was the same two people pursuing the same outcome throughout the versions of the song, and its performance.

They didn't suddenly decide to write a racist anthem in the 3rd version. That's absurd, and untrue.

What is not an assumption is the statement by The University of Texas on the issue. The school song was “first sung at a minstrel show and taken indirectly from a Robert E. Lee quote, contextual elements that many people find offensive.”
Offensive contextual elements here being the minstrel show and indirect quote by a racist.
https://news.utexas.edu/key-issues/the-eyes-of-texas/

Also, I personally never said the song was racist or a racist anthem.
 

Dualthreat

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What is not an assumption is the statement by The University of Texas on the issue. The school song was “first sung at a minstrel show and taken indirectly from a Robert E. Lee quote, contextual elements that many people find offensive.”

What you've achieved here is the documentation of error by somebody writing today about history.

You and I have gone to the source documentation and know better than to accept this mistaken recitation of events.

Prather's quote wasn't REL's quote. Prather's statement wasn't racist. And REL's quote wasn't racist or even ABOUT race. It was about tomorrow's leaders. It wasn't about chasing escaped slaves, as some have asserted.

And it was the THIRD performance, not first.


The above UT News release from today isn't limited to shoddy logic. It's erroneous.

Many people find offensive the falsification of history for modern political agenda expediency.
 

Coach_Bass

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What you've achieved here is the documentation of error by somebody writing today about history.

You and I have gone to the source documentation and know better than to accept this mistaken recitation of events.

Prather's quote wasn't REL's quote. Prather's statement wasn't racist. And REL's quote wasn't racist or even ABOUT race. It was about tomorrow's leaders. It wasn't about chasing escaped slaves, as some have asserted.

And it was the THIRD performance, not first.


The above UT News release from today isn't limited to shoddy logic. It's erroneous.

Many people find offensive the falsification of history for modern political agenda expediency.

Ok so you believe the statement by the University of Texas rep along with their interpretation of events is wrong. Gotcha. You deny that a particular quote in the song has anything to do with Robert E Lee. Gotcha. You believe the "Eyes of Texas" song was in its third performance and potentially not in blackface. Gotcha. We can agree to disagree on those matters.
 

22*43*51

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And while at it how about “cracker”, “honkey”, “redneck”, “spic”, “wop”, “kraut”, etc. etc. etc. they are all equally racist.

You clearly don't understand the segregation and victim ranking that intersectionalism provides.
 

CutaneousHorn

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It’s telling that the “demands” letter does not include any mention by the athletes that they love UT, that they are proud of UT or that they respect UT. This is just a place of business to them. Sad. Not the best negotiation strategy, whatever a person’s stance on the issues.

I thought I was the only one who noticed that. It's pretty telling and eye-opening. If the players don't love the school like we do, the whole foundation for fandom comes crashing down.
 
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Deskjockey

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Who are you trying to kid? The current cancel culture absolutely dictates no players will ever participate in a 'voluntary' singing of the Eyes. If any were to do so, that would rip the team apart internally, so that just won't happen. This movement tolerates no dissent.

The Eyes have been branded with the stigma of racism, which in today's political climate is sufficient to taint it forever in the eyes of young black athletes regardless of any facts to the contrary or how incredibly tenuous the links are. The majority of fans (of all races) have seen the Eyes as a unifying expression of what it means to be Texas alumni, and they will - at the very least - balk at the elimination of something that represents cherished memories and emotional highs.

The Catch-22 is this: By the athletes making this a front page issue, we can't keep the song at all due to political and societal pressures, not to mention the impact on recruiting of young black athletes due to negative recruiting by other institutions. We also cannot eliminate the Eyes without removing large amounts of alumni support, starting with a significant chunk of the oldest and wealthiest. And while the Texas athletic department prides itself on being the richest, a lot of their revenues ($100M+) come from annual donations and ticket sales which could mean significant budget shortfalls near-term.

IMO, these young men with all of their understandable naivete and probably not truly understanding what they did, have significantly injured (if not crippled) Texas athletics for a decade or more, either from a recruiting or a monetary perspective.
@Ketchum Care to rethink your answer now?