Columbia University Marching Band's

Greatest Hits


The Columbia University Marching Band has been supporting

Columbia athletics and wreaking havoc on other Ivy League campuses

for decades. Many of the current band traditions originated in the


The bands from that decade initiated the formation scramble (stolen

from Harvard), the extended narrative half-time show, G(TB)2, the

well-founded claim of "Cleverest Band in the World," and the

ceremonial "J." before the name of any band celebrity.

The band’s reputation and numbers have fluctuated. But through it all,

the band has been the only place in America where you can hear

poignant social commentary mixed with off-color insults of

Dartmouth’s animal population, all set to the tune of an ill-conceived

arrangement of "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

What follows is a selection from some memorable CUMB moments:

"Famous Harvard Alumni Show"

Harvard away — October 1965

The Columbia Band is happy to salute our friends on Massachusetts

Bay. Harvard Alumni have contributed to our society in many ways.

The Band now joins Harvard Alumnus Robert Welch, founder of the

John Birch Society, in the search for communists, who are lurking

every where.

[Formation: Band gets down on hands and knees, and peers into the

grass on football field. Then stands up and plays]

Song: Who?

Of course, business school alumnus Robert MacNamara, and former

dean McGeorge Bundy, have selected a country where you can not

only find communists but kill them. The Band now joins the fight for

freedom by destroying a major Viet Cong fortification, a peasant’s


[Formation: square with triangle on top, disintegrating into a mess as

the song is played]

Song: There’ll be a Hot time in the old town, tonight.

Harvard graduates have also moved to elective office after

undergraduate problems. The Band salutes Senator Teddy Kennedy by

forming a Spanish Exam.

[Formation: rectangle with staple in the upper left hand corner.]

Song: Call Me Irresponsible.

"Birth Control Show"

Brown at home — Nov. 1965

When the Birth Control Show was submitted to the sports information

office, the Dean called in the Band manager, and threatened the Band’s

budget for the next year.

Columbia students have two things on their minds for Saturday

evening after the game. One has to do with alcohol. The Band joins the

excitement of anticipation by showing you the crowd entering Baker

Field by rushing down the tube of Seaman Avenue.

[Formation: Two lines with part of band, rest of band runs down

between the two lines]

Song: Hot time, in the old town, tonight

Of course, bad things can happen if you aren’t careful. The most

popular birth control method, the pill, has side effects: pimples.

[Formation: blob]

Song: June is busting out all over

Not everyone agrees with the pill. The Band now forms the only birth

control method approved by the Catholic Church, a chastity belt.

[Formation: wavy line]

Song: I hear you knocking but you can’t come in

Sometimes, things don’t work out. The Band acknowledges that

accidents cause people by forming a baby carriage.

[Formation: rectangle with semicircle on top]

Song: Who’s Sorry Now

Harvard — 1995

A Haiku from Yale

Mugged before Shakespeare / Eating New Haven Pizza / I hope I don’t


A Haiku from Penn

Five syllables in this line / This line, seven, I think / I like the color


Harvard — 1996

The band now asks you to think of a Harvard alumnus named Ted K.

who was responsible for the death of a secretary. If you thought of

Teddy Kennedy, United States Senator and Chappaquiddick star,

you’re absolutely right. If you thought of Theodore Kascinski,

Unabomber, you’re also perfectly correct. In fact, if you thought of

Ted Koppel, you’re also right. Well, no, not really, I lied about Ted


Yale — 1998

It turns out that this year, for the first time in 244 tries, Columbia

College received more applications than Yale. Now this has been a

long time coming, so we’d like to gloat for awhile while you all sit

there in breathless anticipation for the Yale band and their crack team

of trained bulldogs, who will do countless tricks for your delight. So

anyway, we’re number 2! Ha ha ha! Now all the pretty young actresses

will come to our school. Now we get to lose to Harvard at everything

every year. Of course, we already lose to Harvard at everything, but at

least now it will be official. And the mediocre, one-term presidents

will play baseball and join secret societies at our school now.

Orgo Night — Spring 1998

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The staff of the

Spectator, Columbia’s favorite bunch of incompetents outside of the

administration, changed the look of their newspaper a few weeks ago,

but unfortunately they did not decide to stop publishing semi-literate


Yes, the yearly charade of changing formats and mislabeled

infographics no longer conceals the social commentary on the level

of a Mentos commercial, the constant spelling errors, and the fact that

the Microsoft cartoon paper clip is the copy editor.

But irregardless (is that the right word?) the Spec has taught us one

valuable lesson. Please see Spectator joke, page 12. (flips through

pages of script) Wait a minute. There is no page 12!