The song features the University of Wisconsin's fight song "On Wisconsin." However, it is most likely a tribute to Hawthorne High School, whose school fight song uses the same melody as "On Wisconsin," as briefly explained by Al Jardine in the documentary The Beach Boys: An American Band. (1984) The Wilson brothers and Beach Boy Al Jardine attended that school.[original research?]
The Beach Boys recorded two studio versions of this song. The original recording, which appeared on the album, was made on September 2, 1963, and was in a higher key and at a slower tempo than the second version which was released as a single. The second version features The Honeys chanting various "cheerleader yells" before the first chorus, and Sindi Sunshine vocals after the second and third. The concept for the single version, recorded later that week, was born in the same studio session that Brian and Mike created the original idea for "Fun, Fun, Fun", backstage in Farmington, Utah.
The single version was backed with "In My Room", a collaboration between Brian and Gary Usher, released as Capitol 5069. "Be True to Your School" charted at number 6 on the Billboard charts, and number 4 in the UPI chart survey for newspapers across the United States. It rated number 3 in New Zealand's Lever Hit Parade, number 6 in Sweden, and number 10 in Australia as cited by a contemporary issue of Billboard. Rising to popularity when the Beach Boys were still thought of as a Southern California phenomenon, it did best in Los Angeles: three weeks at #1 (KFWB).
The cover photo for this single (and for the associated album Little Deuce Coupe) included member David Marks but not Al Jardine, though Jardine had returned to create a six-member band for the recording sessions for this single and album. This single, with its B-side "In My Room", were the last two of eight charting songs to include Marks for nearly 50 years (2012's That's Why God Made the Radio), though he remained a legal member until September 27, 1967. This album was shortly shipped off to disc jockeys in the United States, coupled with a list of automobile-related terms to get them familiar with the language used on the songs, such as "Shut Down" and "Little Deuce Coupe".[original research?]