Can You Hear the Bells?: A Review of the Monon Bell Tunes


This Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, will be the kick-off of the annual Monon Bell Classic between the DePauw Tigers and Wabash Little Giants facing off for ownership of the Bell. Monon is a lively time for both DePauw and Wabash students alike with the build tension between the two opposing schools, the pre-game tailgating festivities, and late-night parties to follow. It is also a time for the old-fashioned tunes that add to the excitement of the pending fate of where the Bell will spend its next year, and the reviews for these songs are in!

“Up and Down The Monon” by the Monon Railroad

“Up and Down The Monon” by the Monon Railroad was released circa 1947. The tune opens with a band of jazz instruments like trumpets and trombones and offers an upbeat and cheery feeling to its listeners. This opening leads into lyrics about the history of the Monon Railroad, which was an American railroad known for operating almost exclusively within the state of Indiana between the years 1847 to 1971. This jingle not only praises the new addition of the Monon Railroad to the then-expanding nation, but it also has the vintage feel of old-fashioned jingles. For instance, the old-style inclusion of rhyming words between each line allows its listeners to easily catch on to the tune and live in the bowels of the mind rent-free. Though “Up and Down The Monon” is not about the Monon Bell Classic, it is a great addition to our Monon Bell playlist with its historical connection to Indiana.

“The Ballad of the Monon Bell” (1985 Version) by Nancy Charles and Darel Lindquist

“The Ballad of the Monon Bell” was released during Bell week at DePauw in 1985. It was produced by DePauw alum Nancy Charles ‘57 and written by another DePauw alum, Darel Lindquist ‘68. The tune has country roots with its incorporation of the fiddle and harmonica and hints of acoustic and electric guitar. The lyrics gloss over the topics of the Monon Railroad, but heavily focus on the rivalry between the DePauw Tigers and Wabash Little Giants. The song is able to instill a sense of pride in students, alumni, faculty and staff alike at either of the universities, as the chorus chants, “Ring the Bell for Wabash, ring for old DePauw.” If you’re a fan of country music and feel pride for our Tigers as they face the Little Giants, this song will fire you up for the game!

“DePauw Fight Song” by DePauw University Band

“DePauw Fight Song” is the prideful song played by the DePauw University band as players stand off against the Little Giants. The song is performed by the university’s band, making use of band instruments such as trumpets, trombones, snare drums, bass drums, cymbals, and more. The lyrics drip with the utmost Tiger pride as the song chants, “We will march, march on down the field/shouting for old DePauw/Breakthrough the enemy's line/Their strength to defy!” Though this line alone can fire up any Tiger fan, the ending chant in the song of “T-I-G-E-R-S” will indefinitely fire up the crowd. “DePauw Fight Song” will leave the crowd clapping and cheering for more.

“Old Wabash” by Edwin Robinson and Carroll Ragan

“Old Wabash” was written by Edwin Robinson and produced by Carroll Ragan. The song features piano, an instrument which isn’t present in the other songs. The lyrics paint a vivid picture of the East Coast of the United States to the Midwest and slowly lead into high praises of Wabash College and its football players. Though the piano interlude is enjoyable, the execution of the overall song does not instill the same pride as “DePauw Fight Song” does, and generally falls short in my opinion.