A Different Tune: CMC’s Unofficial Songs
“Chicken Little, the traditions are falling.” That seems to be the common refrain in recent articles followed by a soliloquy about alcohol related events. Don’t get me wrong, alcohol is quite important, but traditions might extend a tad further. Indeed, CMC has several such traditions; trends and customs passed down from year to year. It is worth, I would submit, taking a moment to reflect on one such tradition—an aural tradition—our songs. Songs, you ask? Yes. Believe it, or not, CMC has songs, and it’s high time that more CMCers knew of them, and knew how to sing them.
First, for the Forum’s liability's sake and so not to besmirch the name of our beloved school, I must point out that these are unofficial CMC songs. You will not hear them sung at Commencement or Graduation, though if you catch certain alums at an after party you may hear a rousing rendition.
The first song is entitled “Put Her in the Corner”—the name captures it all. This song is not unique to CMC, other school and fraternities sing variation of the lyrics and tune, which can be heard here and here.
Put her in the corner, And turn the lights down low. Put your arms around her waist; Your lips on hers must go. And, if she starts to murmur A bit objectingly, Just tell her it's the sacred seal Of dear old CMC.
Don't say we didn't warn her, Because, 'twould not be so, About those boys from CMC, Who think they're so macho. And, if he starts to murmur So chauvinistically, Just tell him to shuffle home To dear old CMC.
“Put Her in the Corner,” sung in the key of A, is set to a different tune than the two linked to versions, but is reminiscent of a time when such songs were commonplace on college campuses. I for one appreciate the balance the second stanza provides to the first's racy lyrics. It is worth remembering the men's college past that CMC has, filled with Perry Como-esque songs and good cheer.
Let me state the patently obvious: date rape is not a historical tradition to be carried on or celebrated. Anyone who would read the lyrics as an endorsement of such actions lacks both a conscience and good judgement. Rather the song hearkens back to a time in CMC's history when our then-all male students went in search of love across the 5Cs. It need not be read as a misogynistic enticement (see the second stanza), or a warrant for misanthropic misadventure. It should instead stand as a testament to a simpler time, a tribute to a more romantic soul. It should evoke images of fires burning dim, a last dance, a fleeting glance. It is meant to be nostalgic. Please do not take these words as an invitation towards debauchery, but rather as a challenge to attempt bewitching class. Perry Como would never lay a wrong hand on a woman.
The second song might be a bit more familiar, sort of. “We’re the Sons and the Daughters” is sung, at several official events, in part. What makes this version unofficial? The third stanza. At official events, as recounted by this press release, CMCers are led in singing the first two rounds, but the third and most punchy is left by the wayside.
We’re the Sons and the Daughters of Claremont McKenna And proud of our fair alma mater; With friends of our youth, seeking wisdom, seeking truth, We shall lead on from Claremont McKenna.
We have Crescit Cum Commercio Civitas As our motto at Claremont McKenna; We always will be true to dear old CMC, Ever loyal to Claremont McKenna.
Oh ye’ll take the Econ and I’ll take the Gov, And I’ll be on Wall Street afore ye, For me and my true love shall never meet again On the bonny, bonny banks of the Flemson Water Feature.
The third stanza is important not because it is an accurate reflection of our present student body, but because it honestly reflects our past. When Claremont Men’s College first began it offered one degree: political economy. Even then, the focus was on learning that subject within a liberal arts environment. Over time the college has added majors, but that strong focus on government and economics remains. So it is all together right that we both acknowledge that past, and poke fun at it, in our songs. This one is sung to the tune of the great Scottish song “The Bonnie Banks O' Loch Lomond”
So what are we to gather from this trip down memory lane? It is my hope that these songs will become better known that they once were. There are a great many things to love about CMC, and I am happy to write at length about them, but given our relative youth we could use more traditions. Traditions only survive if they are both passed down, and picked up. So perhaps it is not too hard to imagine that at a time not too far from now, as an evening comes to an end, a group of CMCers might gather over a final drink and from across the quad one might here “Put her in the corner…”
Author’s Note: This article would not have been possible without the generous assistance of Professor Ward Elliott, Claremont McKenna College’s resident institutional memory.