Big C (fight song)
"Big C" is a fight song of the University of California, Berkeley. It was composed in 1913 by Harold P. Williams, with lyrics by Norman Loyall McLaren. It was written to commemorate the construction of the large concrete "C" in 1905 on the "rugged Eastern foothills" of the Berkeley campus. The song was the winning entry in the Daily Californian school song competition in 1913. Arrangements of the tune are used by other schools in the University of California system.
Kelly James, then Associate Director of the UCLA Marching Band and alumnus of the Cal Band wrote an arrangement of "Big C," for a halftime show performed by the combined marching bands from UCLA, UC Davis, and Cal.[when?] Afterwards, UCLA continued using James' arrangement of "Big C" as its fight song, adding their own lyrics and renaming it "Sons of Westwood." It was soon adopted as UCLA's fight song.
Many Cal fans, most notably Cal Band director James Berdahl, were enraged over what they saw as James' theft of their song. A bitter exchange ensued between Berdahl and James for the next several years concerning the legal and ethical grounds for James' adaptation of the song. Finally, on February 18, 1969, UCLA lawyers were told by the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress that "Big C" had never been copyrighted, and therefore in the public domain. However, whenever Cal plays UCLA and "Sons of Westwood" is played, Cal fans sing a parody ending, "but damn you, it's 'Big C.'" Likewise, whenever Cal plays "Big C" UCLA plays their signature "tag" at the end, which is a part of "Sons of Westwood" but not "Big C".
Other schools in the University of California system that play the song as one of their official fight songs include University of California, Riverside, University of California, Santa Barbara, University of California, Irvine, and UC Davis. UC Santa Barbara's song mentions that "Cal Poly's men will soon be routed, and their green will turn to red", UC Davis plays a version of the song that mentions Sacramento State, its own rival, saying, "Sac State Sucks! and will be routed." and "We'll stomp them in the mud and their green will turn to blood." Many high schools in California also use one of the arrangements of the tune, including Napa High School, Independence High School, Pittsburg High School in Pittsburg, San Ramon Valley High School in Danville, De La Salle, Poway High School in Poway, River City High School in West Sacramento, and Moorpark High School in Moorpark.
On our rugged eastern foothills
Stands our symbol clear and bold
Big C means to fight and strive
And win for Blue and Gold
Golden Bear is ever watching
Day by day he prowls
And when he hears the tread
Of lowly Stanfurd red
From his lair he fiercely growls
Grr-ah! Grr-ah! Grrrrr—ah!
We are sons of California
Fighting for the Gold and Blue
Palms of glory we will win
For Alma Mater true
Stanfurd's men will soon be routed
By our dazzling "C"
And when we serpentine
Their red will turn to green
In our hour of victory!
The song has been recorded by the Loftner-Harris St. Francis Hotel Orchestra in October 1931 and also recorded on several albums by the Cal Band, including Big C (1976), California, Here's to Thee (1991), and University of California Band (2003).