The Ramblin' Wreck Song

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The Ramblin' Wreck Song on Paper


The Ramblin’ Wreck

The Ramblin’ Wreck is a 1930 Ford Model A and a major mascot of Georgia Tech. It has been known since 1961 as the main symbol to lead the Georgia Tech football team during Bobby Dodd Stadium every home game. Often, as the Wreck comes out, massive cheering and applause erupt form the crowd, ultimately leading the team into an encore of spirit. Due to the cars prestige, and excellence, drivers of the Wreck are not just anyone. Rather, drivers are elected every season allowing individuals to be reelected, or new individuals to share the honor. To date, there have been forty two different drivers, all putting their own unique twist into the Wreck. However, what truly drives the emotion and excitement behind the vehicle is its counterpart, the Ramblin’ Wreck song. The song has become a major part of Tech’s traditions and is one the first songs which freshmen hear at the school itself. Furthermore, the song is quite often played by the university band while the Wreck is led out, making the moment that much more powerful.[citation needed]

History of the Ramblin Wreck Song

The GT Band preforms the song at each and every football game

The Ramblin’ Wreck song was written in 1895 by the composer Charles Ives, but has had numerous other variations that came both before and after the famous song. There was a massive controversy on who actually had created the song, and in fact it is still unclear as to who owns the copyright of the song.

As a basis, original documents state that the presumed original owner, Frank Roman sold the copyright to Melrose Music Company in 1931. However, the writers of other documents say that Roman could not have sold the song as it was not originally his to sell. Additionally, other evidence suggests that the song was actually written within the years 1893 to 1895. Such contradicting facts seem to have led to confusion. In contrast, all evidence today points to the fact that Charles Ives wrote the piece and he is assumed now to be the original composer of the music. Even more interestingly Melrose Music Company has the full and legal copy rights to the music but when the company’s rights expired, a new arrangement was written by Greenblatt. He applied for a new copy right and quickly handed over all rights over to Tech for only one dollar. [1]

As time pushed forward the song's popularity grew and became more well-known. In 1953, Georgia Tech’s Glee Club sang the song during a major program, which was later aired to millions of viewers. This heightened the love of the song throughout the school surrounding areas. The event, in the end, allowed twenty eight members of the Glee Club to sing the “Ramblin Wreck” to nearly thirty million viewers. The song instantly became known to many as a major representation of Georgia Tech. There were numerous other compositions of the song that were used by various groups and schools. Such compositions of the song include the song “Son of a Gambolier,”; which was first endorsed by Dickinson College. This song was quite different form Tech’s version today, but helped form the melody behind the current version. It holds many rhythms and tones of the real Wreck song within it, but was modified by the Dickinson College's students to match their mascot and ideal more accurately. The song was then taken in by the Colorado School of Mines in the late 1870’s and was renamed “The Mining Engineer” by its students. “Son of a Gambolier” was the major basis of not only the “Ramblin’ Wreck,” but numerous other variations. Without it, todays versions would likely not exist.

Another individual given credit with making massive contributions to the “Rambin Wreck” is Harry McCarthy. He was a variety entertainer and was also said to have converted it into a marching song called “The Bonnie Blue Flag.” The lyrics he included in the song have themes connected to why the South seceded from the Union during the Civil War. His marching song became increasingly popular throughout the south and ended finally, by the end of the war, with eleven different versions to the piece. Each version had different wording and slight variation in tune and rhythm. Each song could have been considered its own work with the diversity that came upon it through those long years. Many of the basics that McCarthy included have carried over to today’s songs. Even certain key words have stayed with the piece over the years and now are repeated every day.[citation needed]

Georgia Tech’s Version

1905 marked the beginning of the “Ramblin’ Wreck” as the Georgia Tech fight song. Sources suggest that the song became such an important part of Tech through a major baseball game between Tech’s rival. The current version of the song was first was present in print in the 1908 year book, “The Blue Print” but was not called “The Ramblin’ Wreck,” but rather “What Makes Whitlock Blush,” a name that is quite different from what the song has become today. Such small differences in the song have not been uncommon in the past century. For example, words such as “hell” and “helluva” were taken out in order to be in junction with the ideals of the early 1900’s. [2]

As the song became more prevalent throughout the school, a man named Arthur Murray helped make the helped through his broadcast of a radio show during what was called a “radio dance.” In the event, which took place in Atlanta, a band that was present played the school song to nearly a 150 individuals who were at the lively event. The evening proved to be of importance to Tech.

Lyrics of The Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech

I'm a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech, and a hell of an engineer
A helluva, helluva, helluva, helluva, hell of an engineer.
Like all the jolly good fellows, I drink my whiskey clear.
I'm a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech and a hell of an engineer.
Oh! If I had a daughter, sir, I'd dress her in White and Gold, And put her on the campus to cheer the brave and bold.
But if I had a son, sir, I'll tell you what he'd do-- He would yell, 'To hell with Georgia!' like his daddy used to do.
Oh, I wish I had a barrel of rum and sugar three thousand pounds, A college bell to put it in and a clapper to stir it round.
I'd drink to all the good fellows who come from far and near. I'm a ramblin', gamblin', helluva engineer![citation needed]

Modern Day

The song today is a huge part of Georgia Tech. It is not just the song itself but the dramatic and constantly different history that is present and known throughout the school. Georgia Tech has had its own versions of the song created over time. Many activist groups have argued for various changes to the song to help it appeal to a larger audience. For example, a group in 1998 said that the song be changed because it was very discriminatory against women. However, for the particular case, most opposed the changes and thus the idea was immediately eliminated. Small changes to the song have been made that have seemed to make the song more college student worthy. In other words, more graphic and profane language has been added to beginning and end of the song.[citation needed]


  1. Georgia Tech Songs Collection 1951-1953
  2. Ramblin Wreck song carries long and storied history. (Hahnming Lee. Friday, October 24, 2008). Retrieved 29 November 2010 from


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