The Eyes of Texas
"The Eyes of Texas" is the school spirit song of the University of Texas at Austin. It is set to the tune of "I've Been Working on the Railroad." Students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the University sing the song at Longhorn sports games, before the fireworks and other events.
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John Sinclair wrote the Texas-specific song lyrics in 1903 to the tune of the original folk song, "I've Been Working on the Railroad," that was published nine years earlier in 1894. Sinclair was the editor of the Cactus yearbook and a UT band member, and he wrote the lyrics per the request of band member Lewis Johnson. Johnson was also the program director of the Varsity Minstrel Show that raised funds for the university track team. He debuted the song at the minstrel show. 
The lyrics are said to be intended to poke fun at University President William Lambdin (Colonel) Prather. Prather had attended Washington College, now Washington and Lee University, whose president, Robert E. Lee, would frequently tell his students, "the eyes of the South are upon you." Prather was known for including in his speeches a similar admonition, "The eyes of Texas are upon you," meaning that the state of Texas was watching and expecting the students to go out and do great things. Prather enjoyed the song and promoted its usage. He died not long thereafter, and the song was played at his funeral.
The song is sung at momentous occasions such as graduation and even solemn occasions such as funerals. Led by the Longhorn Marching Band, it was sung at the July 14, 2007, funeral of First Lady Lady Bird Johnson, an alumna of the University of Texas. When singing the song, participants generally raise their right arm with their hand making the Hook 'em Horns symbol of The University. A recording of "The Eyes of Texas" was played over the Rose Bowl public-address system when the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills to win Super Bowl XXVII, while Madison Square Garden organist Ray Castoldi played it when the Houston Rockets defeated the New York Knicks in the seventh game of the 1994 NBA Finals to clinch Texas' first NBA championship.
Highway rest stops through the state feature road signs stating that "The Eyes of Texas are upon You!" These signs feature a silhouette of a Texas Ranger, encouraging motorists to call 9-1-1 to report criminal activity.
The Eyes of Texas was once the fight song of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). In 1920, UTEP was known as College of Mines and Metallurgy of the University of Texas (sometimes referred to as "Texas College of Mines," or "TCM"). As a branch of the University of Texas, the song automatically became TCM's fight song. It was replaced by Marty Robbins's "El Paso" in 1985.
The wording of the song is as follows.
The Eyes of Texas are upon you,
All the livelong day.
The Eyes of Texas are upon you,
You cannot get away.
Do not think you can escape them
At night or early in the morn --
The Eyes of Texas are upon you
Til Gabriel blows his horn.
As stated, the lyrics are set to the tune of "I've Been Working on the Railroad." It is common practice that the last line, "Til Gabriel blows his horn," is sung and played to a slightly slower beat than the rest of the song. Students, faculty, staff, athletes, and alum punctuate each beat of the last line with a small chopping motion of their right raised arm and "Hook 'Em" hand sign.
In June 2020, several players on the University of Texas at Austin football team requested that the university replace the song with one "without racist undertones." Although University of Texas football players Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams pefer to keep the song as is.
Campbell was quoted to say
"I'm proud of that song,” ~ “I think there's a lot of things that can be done other than that song in my opinion. I just believe 'The Eyes of Texas' stands for something."
and Williams was quoted as saying
"I think it's important to understand our history and to understand where the song came from, but I think it's more powerful to transform the meaning of the song and the definition of the song rather than trying to erase our history like it never existed,”
Following those request, interim UT president Jay Hartzell announced that the song would remain as the alma mater but that the university would work to "reclaim and redefine" the song by openly acknowledging its history.
Usage in popular culture
Appearances in film
- The song was sung by Capt. Oppo (Sergio Fantoni) and citizens of Valerno in 1966 movie What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?
- The song was sung by a group of soldiers in the 1944 movie Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, based on the Doolittle Raid during World War II.
- Roy Rogers starred in a 1948 film titled Eyes of Texas.
- The song is sung in combat by pilot Cowboy Blithe (Don Taylor) in the 1951 movie Flying Leathernecks.
- The song is sung throughout by various infantrymen in the 1951 movie Go For Broke!.
- The song is played repeatedly in the 1956 movie Giant.
- The song is on the soundtrack of Dimitri Tiomkin version of The Alamo, which was nominated for the Academy Awards of Best Music (Original Song) and for Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture) in 1961.
- Elvis Presley sings it as part of a medley with "The Yellow Rose of Texas" in Viva Las Vegas from 1963.
- In Steven Spielberg's 1974 movie The Sugarland Express, as the slow-speed police chase comes into a small town thronged with supporters of the fugitive couple, the marching band is playing "The Eyes of Texas." The score was conducted by John Williams.
- As background to an inaugural ball for newly elected president Lyndon Johnson in the opening scene in the movie Path to War.
- Sung by Roy Orbison and Hank Williams Jr. to calm a rowdy group at a country-western bar in the film Roadie. Travis Redfish, played by Meat Loaf sings along.
- Used as the theme song for both the radio and television versions of Tales of the Texas Rangers.
- Sung by a group of schoolchildren at President John F. Kennedy's breakfast speech in Fort Worth, Texas on the morning of his assassination on November 22, 1963. This clip can be seen in the film "The Men Who Killed Kennedy" and, more recently, in The History Channel's 2009 documentary JFK: 3 Shots That Changed America.
- Played in "The Right Stuff", as background when Project Mercury Astronauts arrive at the official party held in their honor in the Houston Astrodome.
- Sung at Texas Bluebonnet Girls State, as part of the flag ceremony medley.
- On November 7, 2019, Gucci Mane performed a trap version of the song on the special taping of the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at the University of Texas at Austin.
Appearances in other songs
- The song forms the chorus portion of "VI. Chorale and Finale" from Oedipus Tex and Other Choral Calamities.
- The rock group Masters of Reality uses the title in the lyrics of their song "The Eyes of Texas", on their 1989 self-titled debut album.
- The Aggie War Hymn references the song with the lyrics "'The Eyes of Texas are upon you', that is the song they sing so well (sounds like hell)".
- The opening fanfare of "If You're Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)" features Alabama's vocalists – accompanied by just a piano – singing a few bars of "The Eyes of Texas." This introduction leads into the single's opening, which suddenly picks up the tempo to a quick duple-meter.
- The Christmas song "Santa Got Lost In Texas" is based on the melody, with lyrics rewritten by Ken Darby. It was introduced by Michael Landon in the LP "Bonanza - Christmas On The Ponderosa" in 1963. The Jeff Carson version became a national chart record in early 1996.
- Walker, Texas Ranger uses a rewritten version in the opening credits " the eyes of the Ranger are upon you every wrong you do he's gonna see"
- Holley, Joe (July 15, 2007). "Lady Bird Johnson is remembered". Washington Post. Retrieved August 3, 2007.
- "Lady Bird Johnson Funeral - The Eyes of Texas". Retrieved August 3, 2007.
- Calderon, Damiane (January 31, 1985). "Robbins Hit to Replace Fight Song". Prospector.
- "UTEP Spirit". Retrieved June 16, 2020.
- "Texas Longhorns Athletics - Traditions: 'The Eyes of Texas'". www.texassports.com. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
- "✊🏾"What starts here changes the world" #WeAreOne". Twitter.
- Cramer, Maria; Diaz, Johnny (June 13, 2020). "Texas Football Players Call on University to Drop a Song Steeped in Racist History". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
- Young, Matt (September 9, 2020). "Earl Campbell still supports his school's 'Eyes of Texas' song". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
- Kercheval, Ben (July 13, 2020). "Texas will keep 'Eyes of Texas' as alma mater, rename field after former Heisman Trophy winners". CBS Sports. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
- Oxner, Reese (July 13, 2020). "UT will keep 'Eyes of Texas,' but will rename buildings as Black students call for change". CBS Austin. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
- Cramer, Maria (July 14, 2020). "University of Texas Won't Drop Song With Racist History as Players Requested". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
- ^ "It's a Century Later, and the Eyes of Texas are Still Upon You" Support UT news story from March 2003 concerning the centennial of The Eyes of Texas
- ^ Film review of "Giant" - Accessed 20 March 2006
- ^ The Alamo - Accessed 20 March 2006
- ^ "The Eyes of Texas Are Upon Excellence Award Winners"
- ^ P.D.Q. Bach. "VI. Chorus and Finale". Oedipus Tex and Other Choral Calamities. CD. Telarc CD-80239, 1990.
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- "The Eyes of Texas" performed by the Texas Longhorn Band[permanent dead link]
- Eyes of Texas from the Handbook of Texas Online
- Lyrics and history of "The Eyes of Texas" and other Texas traditionals
- Official Student Organization listing of "The Eyes of Texas"
- "The Eyes of The Eyes of Texas Are Upon Us". Archived from the original on October 12, 2004. Retrieved December 5, 2005.
- The Eyes of Texas Award