Things You Should Know About the Ohio State University Song “Carmen, Ohio”

“Carmen, Ohio” is one of the most beloved songs at Ohio State. It is the oldest school song at the university. Written in 1902 or 1903 by Glee Club member Fred Cornell, some historians believe he wrote it on a train trip back from Ann Arbor after OSU lost 86-0 to the Wolverines. Other songs he wrote on that trip include, “We Got Spanked in Ann Arbor,” “Please Put My Head Back On Because I Got My Block Knocked Off Last Night” and “86-0! Out Go the Lights!”

Today, the song is sung by the football team and home crowd together, along with the marching band, after every game at the Shoe. This time also gives the students a much-needed break from drinking before they hit the bars after the game.

Here are some famous lines from the song and their meaning:

Oh come, let’s sing Ohio’s praise

This line was hard to write because at the time there wasn’t much to praise about Ohio in 1902 or 1903. People were either tilling the field, milking cows or bowling.

Summer’s heat or winter’s cold,
The seasons pass the years will roll.
Time and change will surely (truly) show
How firm thy friendship … OHIO!

Later in life, as he got older, Fred Cornell actually updated the song with revised lyrics. Some people call them the “alumni lyrics,” or the “getting older” lyrics:

Summer is hot, winter is cold,
Life in Columbus will make you grow old
Ohio Winters will make you say “oh no!”
As you dig your car out of the snow.

Here is the original final verse:

Though age may dim our mem’ry’s store,
We’ll think of happy days of yore,
True to friend and frank to foe
As sturdy sons of Ohio.
If on seas of care we roll
‘Neath blackened sky or barren shoal,
Thoughts of Thee bid darkness go,
Dear Alma Mater … OHIO!

Similarly, Fred Cornell updated these lyrics too as he got older:

Though age may dim our mem’ry’s store
And make our head, legs and backs mighty sore
Our minds fading, our grip getting weak
We miss our youthful, strong physique

If on seas of care we roll
The virtues of age we cannot extol
For our main thought is these days of gloom
Is why did I come in this room?

Hats off to Fred Cornell for creating one of the most beloved fight songs in the annals of college sports, both his original and little-known revised “getting older” version.


About Joe Ditzel

Joe Ditzel is a keynote speaker, humor writer, and really bad golfer. You can reach him via email at [email protected] as well as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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