Birth of the Songs

College students and faculty used to make up school songs — and sing them. Many have faded away. Two at KU struck a responsive chord and still are sung enthusiastically.

In 1891, professor George Barlow Penny searched for a school song for the Glee and Mandolin Club to sing on a tour. Just before departure, he thought of Cornell's "Far Above Cayuga's Waters." Changing a few words, Penny taught it to the glee club. The campus has been singing "Crimson and the Blue" ever since.

George "Dumpy" Bowles. class of 1912, longed to make a big contribution to KU spirit. He wasn't football-sized, but he could write music. One of his musical shows had a song called "I'm a Jayhawk." Written in 1912, it became a hit with students in 1920. The 1926 glee club performed it nationally.

Click below to listen to the songs as played by the Marching Jayhawks.

I'm a Jayhawk

1 minute (976K) | Download

(with clap sequence)

1 minute (1.3MB) | Download

(performed by John Frederick)

1 minute (1.2MB) | Download

By George "Dumpy" Bowles

(Revised in Fall 2010 due to changes in the Big XII;
new lyrics by Matt Schoenfeld)

Talk about the Sooners, Cowboys and the Bears,
Aggies and the Tiger and his tail.
Talk about the Wildcats, and the Cyclone boys,
But I'm the bird to make 'em weep and wail

'Cause I'm a Jay, Jay, Jay, Jay, Jayhawk,
Up at Lawrence on the Kaw–
'Cause I'm a Jay, Jay, Jay, Jay, Jayhawk,
With a sis-boom, hip hoorah,
Got a bill that's big enough
To twist a Tiger's tail,
Rope some 'Horns and listen
To the Red Raiders wail–
'Cause I'm a Jay, Jay, Jay, Jay, Jayhawk,
Riding on a Kansas gale.
Fighting Jayhawk

1:30 (1.3MB) | Download

Home on the Range

1:45 (1.6MB) | Download

Crimson and the Blue

53 seconds (844K) | Download

Solo by James Levy

53 seconds (844K) | Download

Far above the golden valley
Glorious to view,
Stands our noble Alma Mater,
Towering toward the blue.

Lift the chorus ever onward,
Crimson and the blue
Hail to thee, our Alma Mater
Hail to old KU.

Far above the distant humming
Of the busy town,
Reared against the dome of heaven.
Looks she proudly down.


Greet we then our foster mother,
Noble friend so true,
We will ever sing her praises,
Hail to old KU.


(Follow with Rock Chalk Chant)
Stand up and Cheer

1:07 (1MB) | Download

Sunflower Song

1:11 (1MB) | Download

Kansas Song

1:24 (1.3MB) | Download