Columbia University Marching Band's
By DAN McCARTHY and FRANK MIRER ’66
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
[Formation: Band gets down on hands and knees, and peers into the
grass on football field. Then stands up and plays]
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.
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!