What You Didn’t Know About… “I’m a Ramblin’ Wreck”

“I’m a Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech” is the official fight song of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech for short). You probably knew that already, but you might not know that:

  • Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev sang the song together during a summit in Moscow in 1958. The mood was quite tense, so Nixon suggested doing something to lighten the mood. For some reason, they chose to sing a song together. “I’m a Ramblin’ Wreck” was picked because Khrushchev had heard it on an Ed Sullivan sing-a-long during a previous trip to the United States, and Nixon knew no Russian songs.
  • “I’m a Ramblin’ Wreck” has been featured in movies: Gregory Peck sang it while strumming a ukulele in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, John Wayne whistled it in The High and the Mighty and Tim Holt’s character sings a few bars of it in His Kind of Woman.
  • “I’m a Ramblin’ Wreck” was the first school song played in space.
  • Because of the song’s many references to drinking, a student group backed by MADD often petitions the student government to change the song to something more sober. These petitions are heavily defeated each time they are proposed.

ADDITIONAL TRIVIA: There are only five FBS schools that do not have the word “University” in their official name. Georgia Tech is one, as is ACC rival Boston College. The others are the service academies: the United States Military Academy (Army), the United States Naval Academy (Navy) and the United States Air Force Academy (Air Force).

RANT: Ashlee Simpson Lipsynching

It looks like lil’ ol’ Ashlee Simpson was actually booed (quite vocally) at the end of her halftime performance at the Orange Bowl.

Let me tell you, that was DAMN REFRESHING to see! Now, I’m not being naive here. I know that I’m far past the age of being in MTV’s target demographic. I know that record stores and radio stations no longer care what I think about music. I know that teenagers these days refer to my 80s music as “oldies”. But I’m also not stupid enough to believe (as some frustrated musicians apparently do) that the single yardstick by which musicians should be measured is musical ability. If that were the case, teenage girls all over the world would have posters of Andrés Segovia or Anne-Sophie Mutter on their walls.

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One-Hit Wonders

Like pornography, “one-hit wonders” are hard to define, yet people know them when they see them.

A “one-hit wonder” is technically defined as “a band that has a single hit song in a nation’s official music charts, then fades into obscurity forever”. But, in reality, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

For example, it’s often implied that the “one hit” is huge, like Los del Rio’s “Macarena”, Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out?” or Chumbawumba’s “Tubthumping”. This is to differentiate it from a long-running, well-respected indie band who just happened to have one song peak at #39 in the mainstream charts. I call this the “Pixies Clause”, because although the Pixies had a long career and several hits on the US Alternative charts, most mainstream music fans only remember them for “Where Is My Mind?” (a song, incidentally, that was never a single).

But even this is open to interpretation. The Swedish band a-ha landed at #8 on VH1’s “100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders” list of 2002, not to mention countless “One-Hit Wonders of the 80s” lists. But the band actually had two Top 20 singles in 1985: “Take On Me” reached #1 while the arguably better “The Sun Always Shines on TV” reached #20. Similarly, Great White are often considered one-hit wonders for their #5 hit “Once Bitten Twice Shy”, even though “The Angel Song” also made it to Billboard’s Top 40.

Geography is integral with one-hit wonders. A band can be hugely successful in one country but still be considered a one-hit wonder in another. Sweden’s The Cardigans had ten Top 40 singles in the UK, yet are thought of as “one-hit wonders” in the US for their hit “Lovefool”, which became popular after being featured in Leonardo DiCaprio’s version of Romeo + Juliet. Other geographically-hindered bands in the US include Nena, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Dexy’s Midnight Runners and Crash Test Dummies. Flipping it around, Brownsville Station and Alphaville are considered one-hit wonders in the UK, even though both had more than one hit single in the US.

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