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#1
Old 03-12-2005, 01:29 PM
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The Official University of California (?) Drinking Song

Does anybody know about about an old drinking song that starts as follows, and was introduced to me as the official UC drinking song?

Oh they had to carry Harry to the ferry/ Oh they had carry Harry to the shore /And the reason that they had to carry Harry to the ferry/ Was that Harry couldn't carry any more.


In general the song is disjointed and meandering as befits a drinking song. Another part goes:


California, California; The hills resound the cry/ We're out to do or die/ California, California; We'll win the game or know the reason why.


The "California" part could be changed to suit any school, but the opening lines about the ferry seem like it could really have been sung at Berkeley in the 1800s. In the days before BART and the bridges, if a Bear wanted to go to the city and tie one on, the ferry was the only alternative besides swimming the Bay.

Does anyone know where and how this song really originated?
#2
Old 03-12-2005, 02:15 PM
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I don't know if that song is official, but it is definitely sung by students at UC Berkeley. In my linguistics class, it was brought up as an example of the "West Coast" accent. In other parts of the country, "Harry". "Carry" and "ferry" don't rhyme because they each would have a different vowel sound.

I doubt it goes back to the 1800s, I would place it around the early 1900s. But that's just a guess.

I've seen promotional films for UC Berkeley with the song playing in the background.
#3
Old 03-12-2005, 02:42 PM
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Direct ferry service from Berkeley to San Francisco was [re]established in 1926:
Quote:
San Francisco Bay had prevented the final victory of the automobile during the twenties. Even before World War I, the region's traditional transportation system attempted to adjust to the new reality by establishing automobile ferries between Oakland and San Francisco. In 1926 the Golden Gate Ferry Company, a Southern Pacific affiliate, inaugurated service on a Berkeley-San Francisco line, operating from a new Berkeley pier that extended out to deep water three miles into the bay. The new ferry was Berkeley's first direct transit connection with San Francisco in nearly fifty years. Although the company provided bus service along University Avenue for patrons without cars, the 1926 system was primarily an auto ferry. As such, it was obsolete even before it was completed. Big Game days created the greatest traffic jams in Berkeley history, with cars backed up the length of the pier and on to University Avenue waiting to board the ferry. What the new automobile age demanded was a bridge across the bay.
I don't know what they had in the 1870's, but my guess is that the song would be referencing the ferry system described above. Before that, you would have had to ferry over from Oakland. You can see the old pilings for the three-mile pier extending out into the bay to this day, from the end of the modern Berkeley Pier. And you have to be aware of them as a navigation hazard if you are in a boat.
#4
Old 03-12-2005, 04:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobT
In other parts of the country, "Harry". "Carry" and "ferry" don't rhyme because they each would have a different vowel sound.
They rhyme in the midwest, where I grew up. In fact, I can't think of a place where they don't.
#5
Old 03-12-2005, 04:10 PM
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California's "accent" is pretty much the same as the Midwest.
But if you asked a New Englander or a New Yorker, you would hear different vowel sounds.

Unless they've moved there from the Midwest or the West Coast.
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Old 03-12-2005, 06:22 PM
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The full story along with the full lyrics, which were freely adapted sometime in the Twenties into "I Wanna Go Back to Ohio State".
#7
Old 03-12-2005, 06:57 PM
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BobT, I'll have to listen for that when I get a chance. Can you give me an idea what the NE or NY vowels sound like?
#8
Old 03-13-2005, 03:04 AM
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I'm not a New Yorker or a New Englander, you'd have to ask them.

But I think the vowels in the Northeast tend to be longer and vary more.
#9
Old 03-13-2005, 11:50 AM
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As a native midwesterner who's lived nearly a decade in NYC I can tell you, they definitely think there's a difference between these pronunciations.

In "Harry" or "carry" the 'a' would be pronounced as in "bag". "Harry" would rhyme with "hairy", much as in the Midwest.

In "ferry" or "merry" the 'e' would be pronounced as the "red". Nothing I can think of sounds like that in the Midwest - we just glom together all these sounds into one similar sound - "merry", "bury", "berry", "ferry", "hairy", etc.

Try it a few times, they are quite different sounding. It's weird as a Midwesterner, but you get used to it out here.

Hope this helps.
#10
Old 03-16-2005, 09:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElvisL1ves
The full story along with the full lyrics, which were freely adapted sometime in the Twenties into "I Wanna Go Back to Ohio State".
I'm surprised how much I've forgotten of the song. I forgot the entire first stanza, and that's just for starters. But given the context in which I remember the song, maybe I should be surprised I remember it at all.

My mother grew up and went to college in the Midwest (Iowa and Marquette), and she remembered the song too, or at least the Harry/ferry part. So it must have had some currency outside of California too.
#11
Old 03-16-2005, 09:54 AM
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My Dad is a Cal alum from the early-to-mid 50s. I know this song because he sings it all the time. Some of the lyrics he uses are a little different, as befits a drinking song.
#12
Old 03-16-2005, 10:32 AM
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Huh. I went to Cal, but I don't know the song at all. All I know is the silly version of the fight song: "Our sturdy golden bear is losing all his hair, etc." I am disappointed in myself.
#13
Old 03-16-2005, 10:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fighting ignorant
As a native midwesterner who's lived nearly a decade in NYC I can tell you, they definitely think there's a difference between these pronunciations.

In "Harry" or "carry" the 'a' would be pronounced as in "bag". "Harry" would rhyme with "hairy", much as in the Midwest.

In "ferry" or "merry" the 'e' would be pronounced as the "red". Nothing I can think of sounds like that in the Midwest - we just glom together all these sounds into one similar sound - "merry", "bury", "berry", "ferry", "hairy", etc.
Hmm. I'm no expert on NYC dialects, but my SE Pennsylvanian/Midatlantic dialect pronounces "Harry" and "hairy" quite differently. "Harry" and "carry" rhyme. So do "ferry", "merry", "berry", and "hairy". "Bury" doesn't rhyme with either group of words; it rhymes with "hurry".

I heard the song in linguist school, and honestly, I don't see how Californians can survive with so few vowel sounds
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#14
Old 03-16-2005, 10:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dangermom
Huh. I went to Cal, but I don't know the song at all. All I know is the silly version of the fight song: "Our sturdy golden bear is losing all his hair, etc." I am disappointed in myself.
Apparently you should have spent more time with the drunks and less with the intellectuals.
#15
Old 03-16-2005, 01:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dangermom
Huh. I went to Cal, but I don't know the song at all. All I know is the silly version of the fight song: "Our sturdy golden bear is losing all his hair, etc." I am disappointed in myself.

The silly version of the fight song you mention is actually a Stanfurd parody. I won't point to a link, and I won't share anymore of the pathetic, envious drivel contained in the remaining verses.

As for you, dangermom, you don't know the Cal Drinking Song, and you bring up a nasty Stanfurd parody song, which demeans our school and valiant mascot in a most disgusting way, and worse, you imagine that it is somehow a version of the fight song sung by Cal students. I hope there is an explanation (like, you were the recent victim of an alien abduction that scrambled your pre-frontal cortex), otherwise the Regents may be contacting you for a review of your status as a Cal alum.

Go Bears!
#16
Old 03-16-2005, 02:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flodnak
Hmm. I'm no expert on NYC dialects, but my SE Pennsylvanian/Midatlantic dialect pronounces "Harry" and "hairy" quite differently. "Harry" and "carry" rhyme. So do "ferry", "merry", "berry", and "hairy". "Bury" doesn't rhyme with either group of words; it rhymes with "hurry".
Huh. I grew up in Maryland (though I now live in California). I use the same vowel sound for "ferry", "merry", "berry", "hairy", "Harry", "carry", and "bury", as far as I can tell.
#17
Old 03-16-2005, 08:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dangermom
Huh. I went to Cal, but I don't know the song at all. All I know is the silly version of the fight song: "Our sturdy golden bear is losing all his hair, etc." I am disappointed in myself.
Not sturdy ... dirty.

The dirty golden bear
Is losing all his hair.
His teeth are out.
He's got the gout.
He don't know what it's all about!
His eyes are made of glass.
That bear ain't got no class.
So take your golden teddy bear
And shove him up ....

OK, enough of that.


I'm not sure if the Harry lyrics have a copyright, so I won't post the ones I know. They're also somewhat disparaging of the Irish ... and Germans for that matter.
#18
Old 03-17-2005, 01:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shelbo
The silly version of the fight song you mention is actually a Stanfurd parody. I won't point to a link, and I won't share anymore of the pathetic, envious drivel contained in the remaining verses.
Yes, I know. My mom (another Cal grad) taught it to me. We just don't sing it in front of her sister. The one with the blue and gold cars, and the season tickets.
Quote:
As for you, dangermom, you don't know the Cal Drinking Song, and you bring up a nasty Stanfurd parody song, which demeans our school and valiant mascot in a most disgusting way, and worse, you imagine that it is somehow a version of the fight song sung by Cal students. I hope there is an explanation (like, you were the recent victim of an alien abduction that scrambled your pre-frontal cortex), otherwise the Regents may be contacting you for a review of your status as a Cal alum.

Go Bears!
Well, it's a version sung by me. And the rest of my Cal grad family. And now, by my two tiny daughters--though it is probably too much to hope that they will get to be 4th-generation Cal students, considering what it will undoubtedly cost by then.

I hope the rest of that was a joke.

Greg thanks for the rest of the verse; I only knew up to "what it's all about." I've been looking for the rest, and now that I know it, I'm kinda sorry I taught it to the kidlets.
#19
Old 03-18-2005, 05:23 AM
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Speaking of Stanford:

O, it's beer, beer, beer
That makes you want to cheer
On the farm, on the farm!
It's beer, beer, beer,
That makes you want to cheer
On the Leland Stanford Junior Farm!

My eyes are dim.
I cannot see.
I have not brought my specs with me.
I have -- hey! -- not -- ho!
Brought my specs with me.

Other verses rhyme gin and win, whiskey and frisky, etc. How about teaching that one to the kiddos?

There's also a great parody by the California Golden Overtones called "Stanfurd -- Don't You Regret Your Choice Now?".
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