“Top Fifteen” Packers Fight Songs
By Chris Wood,
It was two years ago that Billboard Magazine released a list of what they deemed to be the “Top Ten” NFL Fight Songs. Staff member Jason Lipshutz wrote the article, so one can assume it reflected his opinion and his opinion alone about what the best fight songs in the league were as ranked from tenth to first place.
Since the Packers have had such a long and storied history, there are several hundred songs that have been written about the team dating back 85 years to the first one – Go! You Packers, Go! – composed by Reedsburg’s Eric Karll in 1931. It was also the first professional football team fight song ever, so it has some very special historical significance.
I’ve made it a point to collect Packers music for the last thirty years, purchasing every new release I became aware of in that time. I also began acquiring many of the older recordings that had been released on vinyl records before then as I was able to find them.
Naturally, there is a great variety of musical genres, not to mention quality levels of the various individual recordings. The genres run the gamut from rock, country, blues, rockabilly, grunge, marches, disco, rap and calypso, to the spoken word. For the most part, the songs are professionally recorded, but, of course, some of them are not.
The following list represents just one opinion – that being mine – on which are the top 15* Packers songs of all time after having listened to them at least once and most of them, numerous times. In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that I am the owner of Madera Music, LLC, which has the Tailgate Tunes trademark, the Just Right record label, Bigger Hammer Publishing and several releases of Packers songs in its catalogue.
Without further adieu, here are the “Top 15” Packers songs, as we see it with some additional information on each one related to its background or what makes it special.
Put each number in special graphic, maybe a circle to represent a record. Bold each song name and “written/performed by” sentence.
15. Scatter My Ashes
Written by John Harmon and performed by Lance Colby.
The idea of one having their ashes sprinkled or strewn upon Lambeau Field as a final resting place is nothing new, and has occurred to many a “diehard” Packers’ fan over the years! It is an idea that has been considered more often since cremation has become more common in recent years. Composer John Harmon expressed the feeling behind this quite eloquently in suggesting how the song speaks to the fan that is found in all of us.
“It’s a song about profound faith, loyalty and commitment,” he explained. “The unique situation of the Pack, an American team owned by the common man, captivates and enthralls us all. And win or lose, its fans are behind the team 100 percent!”
About all we can say in response to that sentiment is, “Amen, John!”
14. Back To The Super Bowl
Written as a “derivative work” of I Love Rock ‘N Roll by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. Parody written and recorded by Cheeseheads with Attitude; released in 1998.
There are a great many “derivative works” which are parodies of big hits and work very well when modified to become Packers fight songs! Oftentimes, all it takes is some changes to the lyric portion or a completely different set of lyrics to morph into a catchy Packers song and there are some tunes that seem to be ideally suited for that! The original song by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts was released in 1982 and spent several weeks at #1. The Cheeseheads With Attitude parody of it titled “Back To The SuperBowl” does the original justice in terms of the sound, the lead vocal track and the overall vibe, earning it a welldeserved place on the chart.
13. It’s The Pack (Hands Down)
Written by Randy McStine and performed by Field and Stream.
The songwriter of this one was a Jets fan as a boy growing up in upstate New York and like many others all over the country, he had a special respect and place in his heart for the Green Bay Packers. He felt the Packers exemplified all that football was and all that it should be with the components of “true, genuine football” being the foundation of the team. Ultimately, he felt compelled to pay tribute to his boyhood heroes in this song, which alludes to the eminence of Lambeau Field, as well as the heroes and legends made there.
12. Mr. Rodgers’ Neighborhood
Written and recorded by James Kocian.
Since placing a cut on the original Tailgate Tunes album in 1997, James Kocian has been expressing his Packers’ passion, musically speaking, in many ways. When we were discussing an upcoming new album project several years after that, he let us know he had a great new song “in the can” and ready for release about our then new quarterback, called Mr. Rodgers’ Neighborhood.
It proved to be a great title with a wonderful vibe! He explained his intention was to connect with fans at Lambeau Field through an edgy, passionate song with a “strong beat and relevant lyrics,” which he managed to do very well!
11. Cheesehead From Wisconsin
Parody of Okie From Muskogee by Merle Haggard. New lyrical version written by Warren Rodgerson and recorded by The Packer Maniacs in 1997.
This one works like a charm and is a near-perfect parody song! However, it’s always up to the publishing company that owns the original recording rights on whether or not to give it to whomever is seeking permission to release it. It’s always with the contractual agreement/stipulation that the original publishing company will receive all of the songwriter’s and publisher’s royalties from sales of the parody version. However, some of the new parody versions are actually better than the originals, so we’re happy to do it in that case, if we really like the (new) song!
10. The Lambeau Leap
Written by Warren Rodgerson and recorded by The Packer Maniacs.
This is a calypso number that tells the story of the history of how the Lambeau Leap first came into being and was modified into its final form soon thereafter. It also conveys just how special it is because there is no other team in the NFL with such an unusual and apropos after-touchdown ceremony involving the player having scored and the nearby fans who witnessed it close up and personal! It’s a private little celebration of their very own, just beyond the goalpost, and it’s sometimes broadcast coast-to-coast! It came into existence very naturally, and really is special in that it encapsulates the unique bond between the Green Bay Packers, the fans and Lambeau Field. The calypso beat seems to beautifully and perfectly capture the vibe!
9. Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys
Written as a parody of the original song with the same name penned by Ed and Patsy Bruce. Parody lyrics written by “Bird Dog” and Rex Schnelle and recorded by Ron Wallace.
This one is all about the rivalry with the Dallas Cowboys back in the ‘90s. As such, it is somewhat of a snapshot in time of what that competition was like during that period. When the Packers started to get into the playoffs in the mid ‘90s, it was the Cowboys who derailed them three times in a row before they won the NFC Championship and then the Super Bowl in 1997. While the song was all in good fun, it pointed out some undeniable cultural differences between the Packers of Green Bay and the so-called “America’s Team” from Dallas (yeah, right!) at that time.
8. We Go Green Bay
Written by Bill Etten and John Labby in 1985 and recorded by Bill Etten & The Heritage Band.
A snappy little number that will take you back to the Green Bay of the mid ‘80s whether you like it or not! Fortunately, the song is upbeat and happy and not reflective of the fortunes of the team during that decade, which was very trying for even the most devout and loyal Packers fans. When it arrived in 1985, the song was a breath of fresh air and ray of sunshine for many fans, who had the pleasure of hearing it on the radio or a jukebox located in their favorite bar or restaurant somewhere within Packer Nation.
When two guys from Nashville decided they were going to release an album of Packers songs on their newly formed record label after the Packers won the Super Bowl in 1997, they called us to request assistance with finding some of the songs they wanted to include on the recording. For one of them, they weren’t sure about the title and the release date or place. They just knew some of the lyrics, so we made it a quest to track it down.
As luck would have it, I was talking to a neighbor down the street one day who had recently moved to town from Marquette, MI. When I described the song to him, he said, “Oh sure, that’s ‘We Go, Green Bay,’ which they’ve been playing on a Marquette radio station forever, because it was written and recorded by a Yooper from around there!”
We called the station in Marquette that afternoon, which verified the information and the DJ was able to give us the name and home phone number of the leader of the band! We contacted him soon thereafter and made the arrangements to get it on the album.
7. Green Bay at 12:00
This is the Wedgies’ parody of Highway To Hell by AC/DC.
If nothing else, this “derivative work” (euphemism for parody because it sounds more legitimate) is “catchy as hell,” like the original song! While the original is more hellbent on destruction than this one, Green Bay at 12:00 captures the excitement of Lambeau Field at noon on game day! It is based on and gets its title from the pregame atmosphere around the stadium at that time. While it may be a bit of a stretch in comparison to a Highway To Hell, it rocks hard and is respectful of the original while doing it justice! Many of the so-called “rock music critics” would say those are the two most important attributes that a parody should have.
6. The Cheesehead Special
Written by Tom Sumner and Mike O’Neill and recorded by Elroy & The Diehards.
A rockabilly tour-de-force that can go head-to-head with such classics as Johnny Cash’s Orange Blossom Special, Elvis Presley’s Mystery Train and the Fendermen’s Heartbreakin’ Special!
With a searing lead guitar track to send it down the rails at breakneck speed, complemented by some biting harmonica riffs judiciously sprinkled throughout the experience, you may be inclined to want to heed the conductor’s call to climb aboard The Cheesehead Special!
Be prepared to head deep into enemy territory, to “steamroll the Vikings once more” before heading down to Chicago to “cannonball those Bears and git’ er’ done!”
You will be understandably forgiven if you think you’ve entered a time warp and gone back over 60 years to the Sun Recording Studio in Memphis when rockabilly was the new music of the day, but just be sure to enjoy the trip!
5. Face To Face
Written by Lance Dale Gehl, Alby Lee Odum and Robert Lee Barr.Performed by Project Labrat.
A hip, modern-day rocker about the pride and attitude Packers’ fans generate and emanate seeing their team on its home turf at Lambeau Field!
The recording is as engaging and professional as they come and probably could have gone head-to-head with many songs in the Top 40 during the nineties or first decade of the new millennium! Think U2 and R.E.M.
4. Armed and Ready
Written by Terrance Alan and performed by Brian Harrison.
This song was written expressly for the annual occasion of Green Bay Packers fans celebrating the arrival of yet another football season, when everything looks great (on paper, anyway!) and hope springs eternal before the first game on opening day. No matter what trash talk we may be hearing from anyone and anywhere, we can say we have very good reason for the optimistic outlook; because just one look at the record says it all: we’re undefeated!
3. Ballad Of The Green Bay Pack
Parody of The Ballad Of The Green Berets by SSgt. Barry Sadler and Robin Moore. Parody lyrics by Chris Vesche and Scott Seban.
When Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler released The Ballad of the Green Berets in early 1966, the song struck a responsive chord with the American public in a big way! It was perched atop the charts at the Number One position for five weeks in a row, and went on to become the biggest selling single of the year. This was no small feat, considering the stiff competition from the likes of The Beatles and Herman’s Hermits, not to mention a host of other very talented American groups! Fast forward 30 years, a Milwaukee area band known as The Music Venders decided to do a Packers’ tribute parody which they entitled, Ballad of the Green Bay Pack.
While it originally was a “bootleg” recording, we decided to try to secure the necessary rights to release it street legal on the second Tailgate Tunes album. After doing the due diligence on who owned the rights to it, we were able to contact them and obtain the requisite permission by sending them a sizeable check for an advance royalties payment.
2. The Bears Still Suck Polka
Written by Jim Krueger and released by The Happy Schnapps Combo.
This song is far and away the most popular of all of the Packers songs and has been so for many years, bar none! It was released by the Happy Schnapps Combo in 1991 and quickly became very popular as Packers songs go and has been the crowd favorite ever since!
The song was written by Jim Krueger, who was from Manitowoc and had also written “We Just Disagree” for the Dave Mason Band, which got as high as Number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the fall of 1977. He was an excellent musician and very successful songwriter. Along with his brother Richie, he formed The Happy Schnapps Combo, which consisted of some very talented musicians. However, they also used the moniker of The Normal Adults and were anything but!
1. Go! You Packers, Go!
Written by Eric Karll in 1931 and recorded by the Vocal Fury Barbershop Quartet in 2015.
No doubt there will be some questions asked and a few eyebrows raised by us ranking this as the Number One song (and, yeah, we won’t deny more than a little bias being involved!). But even aside from all of that, the reasons are quite obvious: purely and simply put, not only is it the oldest and very first NFL football fight song ever, it was written by a true professional Wisconsin composer and has stood the test of time!
Dating back to the time of Curly Lambeau in the thirties, when it was played by The Lumberjack band before every home game; to the Lombardi era in the sixties when the instrumental version was recorded by The Bernard Green Orchestra and released on Capitol records; it has truly become a timeless anthem for several generations!
Many older Packers fans today would recognize that familiar melody anywhere because they had heard it so often growing up as the background music in local TV and radio commercials!
Upon hearing an early version release with the lyrics being sung for the first time several years ago, Brian Murphy of HBO Sports characterized it as “an invaluable piece of Packers history that has been missing!” Well, not anymore.
From a personal standpoint, I have always believed in it more so than in any other football fight song, which is why I’ve gone to great lengths and spent thousands of dollars to keep it alive and get it out there for the listening pleasure of the Packer public:
It is an important part of our Packers legacy!
*Please note: This piece began as a “Top Ten” lineup of Packers fight songs. However, it became very obvious, very quickly, that it would be completely impossible to do that; much like trying to stuff 10 pounds of whatever into a five pound bag!