"Bow Down to Washington..."
"...the words and music must never have been heard before; it must be catchy, easy to sing and be exclusively a Washington song..."
The birth of "Bow Down to Washington," the official fight song of The University of Washington, has a storied and unique history. Written in late October 1915 with words and music by Lester J. Wilson, the impetus came from a contest sponsored by the University of Washington Daily, where the winner was offered a $25 dollar prize for their efforts. The rules of the contest required that "the words and music must never have been heard before; it must be catchy, easy to sing and be exclusively a Washington song." There was also a requirement that the song must make a specific reference to the rivalry between UW and the University of California Bears.
In the midst of these plans, the University of California set the stage "for what would become the biggest game ever played on the West Coast." In anticipation for this game, the University of California crafted a fight song directly aimed at the University of Washington:
Down from the North comes the Purple and Gold,
To skin our Golden Bear;
Washington’s ’leven can never hold
The charge of our mighty Bear.
Our team on the field is a line of steel,
And every man is game;
When the strength of the Blue and Gold they feel,
Those Northmen will be tame.
These lyrics emerged in the University of Washington's newspaper, the Daily, as students were submitting entries for UW's own fight song, and dedicated fans were preparing for the journey between Seattle and San Francisco for the monumental game. Ultimately, Lester J. Wilson's "Bow Down to Washington" won the contest.
During a tense football game in Nov. 6, 1915, the University of Washington crushed California with a whopping 72-0 outcome.
(University of Washington Magazine, Dec 2014)
The University of Washington had a 49-game unbeaten streak since 1907, which didn't go over well with the Big Six, the Pacific Intercollegiate Conference which consisted of Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, Idaho, and Whitman. Members of the conference arranged a plan to demolish Washington by "dicatat[ing] a schedule unfavorable to [UW coach Gilmour] Dobie's team."
The lyrics have changed slightly over the last century:
Original 1915 Chorus:
Heaven help the foes of Washington,
They’re trampling at the feet of mighty Washington.
Our boys are there with bells, their fighting blood excels,
It’s harder to push them over the line pass the Dardanelles.
Dobie, Dobie pride of Washington;
Leather lungs together with a Rah! Rah! Rah! (Yell sharply)
And when we snare that Golden Bear
You’ll never carry it back from Washingtonia.
Updated 2018 Lyrics
So heaven help the foes of Washington
They’re trembling at the feet of mighty Washington
Our teams are there with bells, their fighting blood excels
It’s harder to push them over the line than pass the Dardanelles.
So, VICTORY'S the cry of Washington
Our leather lungs together with a RAH! RAH! RAH!
And o’er the land the loyal band
Will sing the glory of Washington forever!
Boeing Employees Credit Union (BECU) Bow Down to Washington Advertisment from 2011 with UW Alumni (Rick Steves, Danielle Lawrie, Richard Karn, Kenny G, Elise Woodward, Detlef Schrempf and more)
BECU advertisement featuring famous UW Alumni singing "Bow Down to Washington" (2018)
BECU Bow Wow Down to Washington
Enjoy this rendition of "Bow Down to Washington" featuring our furry friends!