Earliest Recordings of The Eyes of Texas and Texas Fight
Above: Side A and B of a 1928 Victor 78 rpm record of The Eyes of Texas and Texas Taps. Performed in San Antonio on May 20, 1928, they are the earliest known recordings of these traditional songs. Click on the image for a larger view.
Click here for a blog post about the discovery of these recordings.
The Eyes of Texas – 1903, Lyrics by John Lang Sinclair
Texas Taps (“Texas Fight!”) – 1923, lyrics and music by Walter “Red” Hunnicutt and Burnett “Blondie” Pharr
On Sunday morning, May 20, 1928 – only a few days after the 25th anniversary of The Eyes of Texas, which made its debut on May 12, 1903 – members of the Longhorn Band and University Men’s Chorus boarded a train for San Antonio, and at a downtown hotel performed two songs that were released on a Victor Victrola record. They are the earliest recordings known of what have become longstanding University traditions.
The Eyes of Texas is performed at a slower tempo than what is usually heard today, and the song is introduced with a yell: “Yea Texas! Yea Texas! Yea Texas! Fight! Fight! Fight!” It’s not clear whether this was included just for the recording, or if, in 1928, a yell was a normal prelude to singing the Eyes. (A history of the song is here.)
Texas Taps, better known today as the Texas Fight! song, was composed by Walter Hunnicut and first performed at the 1923 Thanksgiving Day football game between the University of Texas and Texas A&M, played that year in College Station. Hunnicut’s melody is a spoof on a traditional Farmers Fight! song then used at A&M. Listen closely. If you string together the parts where “Texas Fight!” is sung and eliminate the rest, you’ll hear the familiar Taps bugle call.
As with The Eyes of Texas, a yell precedes Texas Taps. Unfortunately, the cheer is shouted quickly and hard to understand, though it turns out to be a slight variation from the original Rattle-de-Thrat yell created in 1896. (More on UT yells and cheers is here.) The yell heard on the recording is:
Texas Fight! Texas Fight! Yea Texas Fight!
Rattle-de-thrat! Rattle-de-thrat! Rattle-de-thrat! Rattle-de-thrat! Longhorn! Cactus Thorn! Texas! Texas! Texas! Mooooooo, Texas!
Recorded: May 20, 1928 in San Antonio, Texas
Instrumentation: 7 clarinets, 2 saxophones, 2 French horns, 7 cornets, 4 trombones, baritone horn, 2 tubas, 3 drums, bass drum, and tympani.
Men’s Chorus: 5 tenors, 4 second tenors, 4 baritones, and 4 basses.
Special thanks to Jennifer Duncan who found the recording.