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I Wanna Go Back to Ohio State

I wanna go back to Ohio State
To old Columbus town,
To the stadium to hear the band,
By far the finest in the land,
I wanna go back to Ohio State
To old Columbus town,
I wanna go back,
I gotta go back,
To Ohio
Ohio, Ohio
The hills send back the cry [O - H!]
We're here to do or die [I - O!]
Ohio, Ohio
We'll win the game or know the reason why!
And when we win the game, we'll buy a keg of booze!
And we'll drink to old Ohio,
'Til we wobble in our shoes!
Ohio, Ohio
We'll win the game or know the reason why!

I Wanna Go Back to Ohio State owes its roots to the (University of) California Drinking Song. I Wanna Go Back To Ohio State, like the California Drinking Song combines melodies from three songs. The most recognized melody comes from the song Oh, Didn't He Ramble, which was written by Will Hanby, with collaboration of Ragtime musicians Cole and Johnson, in 1906. Later that year, the song California was written, by an unknown author, using the chorus portion of Oh, Didn't He Ramble. In 1906, Ohio State adapted California to the song Ohio. More information about the University of California connection can be found here. It is possible that I Wavna Go Back to Ohio State was written sometime in the late 1930s.

The lines:

And when we win the game, we'll buy a keg of booze!
And we'll drink to old Ohio, 'Til we wobble in our shoes!

Were added in 1907, as these lines are part of the California Drinking Song. During Prohibition, Ohio State used the lyrics:

And when we win the game, I'll tell you what we'll do
We will yell for old Ohio, Til' we wobble in our shoes!

Restoring the California lyrics after Prohibition.

Like the California Drinking Song, I Wanna Go Back to Ohio State also has gone through transition over the years. The songs' original title was Ohio, which used the same lyrics as California, except Ohio was substituted for California. For your information, the hills referred to in the song, are the hills that surround Berkeley. The first nine lines were added sometime after 1928, and the name of the song changed.

The first nine lines of the I Wanna Go Back to Ohio State, use the melody of the song I Want To Go Back To Michigan. Yes, you read that right. Maybe somebody's idea of a inane joke? I Want To Go Back To Michigan was written as a drinking song about student life at the University of Michigan around 1913. It features a tavern called Joe Parker's Saloon, which was located in the first floor of the Catalpa Hotel in Ann Arbor (circa 1913 - 1920). It also features The Orient a combination cigar store and barber shop, which was located on the first floor of the long defunct Oriental Masonic Lodge. You can read more about Joe's here. Both the Catalpa Hotel and the Oriental Masonic Lodge were razed and replaced with new construction.

The MIDI and lyrics to I Want To Go Back To Michigan are as follows:

I want to go back to Michigan,
To dear Ann Arbor town,
Back to Joe's and the Orient
And back to some of the money I spent.

I want to go back to Michigan,
To dear Ann Arbor town,
I want to go back,
I want to go back
To Michigan.

Oh! Father and mother pay all the bills
And we have all the fun
In the friendly rivalry of college life,
Hooray!

And we have to figure a hell of a lot
To tell what we have done
With the coin we blew
At dear old Michigan.

Lines ten through fourteen, of I Wanna Go Back to Ohio State, use the melody of the chorus from Oh Didn't He Ramble. Lines fifteen, sixteen and seventeen use a melody similar to Son of a Gambolier (If I Had A Daughter). Lines eighteen and nineteen revert back to the melody of the Oh Didn't He Ramble chorus. It is possible the OSUMB arrangement dates back to the 1930s.

I Wanna Go Back to Ohio State is a favorite among alumni and students alike. It is generally played at the Alumni Band Day, which is usually the first game of the football season, as well as the Homecoming game.

Listen to the piano arrangement of I Wanna Go Back To Ohio State, which was compiled from various sources.

Photo: 1938 Ohio State vs. Michigan, Courtesy The Ohio State University Archives


Please e-mail any comments, problems or suggestions to nmetro@sgsosu.net

Webmaster: Nick Metrowsky
The Ohio State University, BA, History, 1979
Life Member The Ohio State University Alumni Association
Life Member of The Ohio State University President's Club
Annual Member of The Ohio State University Varsity "O" Association

Last Updated: 15 March, 2013


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