It's music to Wildcat alumni's ears

By Danielle Rideau
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, November 4, 2005

Song can be heard around campus every day at noon

Every day at the stroke of noon the sound of "Bear Down, Arizona" serenades across campus, but where the sound comes from and the story behind the song are not as obvious.

"Bear Down, Arizona" has become the school's motto and second fight song since the death of the man who first uttered the words "bear down" in 1926.

Since 2001, the UA has been playing a recording of the song every day from the Administration building.

Jay Rees, the associate director of bands, said when he began working at the UA in 1995, the only recorded copy of "Bear Down, Arizona" was on vinyl record and was recorded in the 1970s.

Rees said in 1996 he recorded a CD with the Pride of Arizona marching band to replace the old vinyl.

Every day, that song is played through speakers on the Administration building, said Chris Kopach, associate director of Facilities Management.

Administration played the song at noon through the building speakers to kick off Campaign Arizona on Nov. 1, 2000, said Rebecca Ruiz-McGill, UA media relations manager.

After several requests to keep playing the song at noon, the administration began playing the song on a daily basis starting in November 2001, Ruiz-McGill said.

As the story goes, the phrase "bear down" was coined by John "Button" Salmon, who was the student body president, as well as the catcher for the baseball team and a quarterback for the football team, said Arizona Ambassador Jon Jensen.

Jensen and the Arizona Ambassadors give campus tours to potential students and their families, and when they are outside Bear Down Gymnasium, he tells the tour groups the story of how "bear down" became the UA motto and then sings it to "give them their first taste of school spirit," he said.

Legend maintains that Salmon was injured in a car accident in October 1926, and when the athletic director at the time, J.F. McKale, visited him in the hospital, Salmon's final message to the football team was "tell them ... tell them to bear down."

Shortly after McKale delivered the message to the team, the Chain Gang Honorary raised money to have the words painted on the roof of the present-day Bear Down Gym, Jensen said.

Then one day an applicant for the position of band director, Jack Lee, was flying back home, saw the words on the gym roof and was inspired to write a song, said James Knight, a professor who teaches the course called Heritage and Traditions of the University of Arizona.

Amy Adamcin, a freshman majoring in family studies and human development, said she likes that the song is played every day, and she even sings along to it.

"I like it, it sounds like a glee club or the Mickey Mouse Club," Adamcin said.

'Bear Down' Lyrics

Bear down, Arizona
Let's cheer for Arizona
Let's lift our
voices high
Let's cheer for Arizona
The bear down battle cry
Let's cheer our team to victory
Let's cheer our team to fame
Let's cheer for Arizona
For spirit wins the game!

Bear down, Arizona
Bear down, red and blue
Bear down, Arizona
Hit 'em hard
Let 'em know who's who
Bear down, Arizona
Bear down, red and blue
Go! Go!
Wildcats go!
Arizona, bear down