Clog’s guide to learning the Cal Drinking Song

Annie Chang/File
Annie Chang/File
Annie Chang/File

It’s the work of art that acts both as a school anthem and as an agent in our unification, the tune symbolizing our trademark intensity and a secret spell that will immortalize the college experience. For this monstrous power to be so underutilized by the student body — well, that’s basically sacrilege.

You don’t need to drink, you don’t need to care, but you need to know the lyrics to the Cal Drinking Song.

Let’s be real, it’s long and hard (that’s what she said), but we at the Clog have some tips to help you master it. When it comes down to it, the lyrics follow a simple logic: All that’s required is common sense, knowing where you are (UC Berkeley) and what you stand for — winning the game and the party.

Open that lyric sheet on a separate tab, and sing with us as we help you with some rough patches:

  1.    Know the context.

Where is the party? Hint: Think of the place that’s home to what seems like 95 percent of students — SoCal. It seems like every other handshake is followed with, “Hey, I’m Josie. Yeah I’m from, like, Newport. You heard of it?” So, of course, this party is going to be in the hotspot of shallow SoCal glory. We have a special place in our hearts for it.

  1.    Know your subjects.

Harry, Mary and Grace. Only one of those names doesn’t appear in the Bible (except maybe to describe Jesus’ chest). Also, it may help to play word association games. With “Grace” we got “amazing,” with Mary we got “marriage” and with Harry we got “The Chosen One” and “Dean Stanton,” associating this name with a revolutionary wizard and an iconic rebel. So it’s obvious that Harry, tragically excluded from the Bible and a die-hard rebel, had to get “carried from the place.”

  1.    Follow sequences logically.

So now you’re on a ferry carrying Harry. Where do ferries go? Land! And what’s the first part of the land you hit? The shore. And why are you even carrying Harry in the first place? Because he couldn’t carry anymore. It’s common sense, folks.

  1.    Know the thesis.

 So you’ve survived the anecdotal, tongue-twisting lead. Here comes the nut graph: “For California, for California…” Understanding this section of the song is crucial, as it contains the entire message of the song crystallized into five short lines. The thesis, which is glittered with superfluous words, rhymes and stories, is actually very simple: We are Cal. We like to be the best at everything, and we are not shy about celebrating that fact.

  1.    Follow the chronology

Think about it. The song is designed to be processed and delivered by the intoxicated mind. The sequence of events is, in fact, chronological, and the events that are described are, shockingly, about drinking. First, buy the booze. Then drink it until you’re drunk (or until you “wobble in your shoes”). Then keep drinking, and sing (“Drink, Tra la la…”) . Finally, sum it up in three words: “Drink. Drank. Drunk.”

  1.    Succumb to the mystery of the Souse family

Okay, no one knows who the Souse family is. In fact, if you have any information about this incredibly important part of UC Berkeley history please email us. That said, it is not something to fixate over. A family friend explained it perfectly to us: “It does not matter who they are, just know that you are a part of it.” And if you are a part of it, it must be the best.

  1.    Pay tribute to the original drinkers.

This is a song about drinking. In fact, it’s typically sung during the process of drinking itself. You can’t talk about drinking without paying homage to the people who do it best: the Irish.

  1.    Rhyme

You know that caption you’ve probably seen a million times? Try singing it. It’s fun. #gloriousvictorious

  1.    Have confidence and love each other.

Like Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, or EECS, freshmen who predict a transition out of college into a “six-figure starting salary” — a phrase that is all too common to overhear while walking through campus — indulge in the UC Berkeley fantasy and overestimate your capabilities. It’ll push you to your limits: “One of us could drink it all alone.”

Especially in the past few football seasons, it’s been easier to win the party than to win the game. So as the song wraps up, it’s important to find someone else dressed in blue and gold and use this song to connect with them, rather than wait for that post-touchdown high five.  

  1. Finish strong (kind of).

Even if you get lost in the middle verses, the end of the main body of the anthem is easy to chime in on: “Here’s to the Irish, dead drunk!” When everyone launches into the slow and moaning “lucky stiffs” epilogue, it’s basically expected that you’ll be slurring your words at this point. So, no stress there.

Contact Natalie Silver at [email protected].

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  • ShadrachSmith

    Is this a relic of white-devil-slave-master cultural hegemony that should be destroyed?

  • Remember, this is a drinking song. The “Souse Family” is a reference to the word “soused” (meaning “drunk”.)