Fighting words put to music Football: Thanks to John Modell, nevermore will Ravens fans be without a team song. You heard it here first.

August 08, 1998|By Rob Hiaasen | Rob Hiaasen,SUN STAFF

So, you want me to sing it over the phone?

Yes, John Modell, oldest son of Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell, we do want you to sing the Ravens' Fight Song. After all, you wrote the ditty this spring. After all those years of warbling the Colts' Fight Song ("Let's go, you Baltimore Colts, and put that ball across the line ..."), it's time for a new fight song.

Sing, John, sing.

Flying High, Fierce pride in our eye, The Ravens of Baltimore ...

Hey, good voice (maybe you had to be there).

The Ravens were without their own fight song for the first two years, but the new stadium was cause for a Ravens song. During tonight's pre-game show of the Ravens-Bears game, Baltimore's Marching Ravens will belt out the two-minute anthem, so fans can judge for themselves if the song is worthy.

Modell, 38, wrote the fight song in 30 minutes, give or take 15 minutes. By title, he's executive producer of Ravens' entertainment; by trade, Modell has a multi-media production company in L.A. He's a composer, a former defensive tackle, and did we mention his dad owns the team?

Still, "I didn't want to get involved with this tune," Modell says. "I just felt it might be weird for the son of the owner to write it. I didn't want to step on anybody's toes."

Too much Colts history, he means. Perhaps more than any other professional football team, the Baltimore Colts were known for their fight song. College football teams are known for their songs ("Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame, shake down the echoes cheering her fame ..."), but few pro teams are. Well, maybe the Redskins are, but they don't count.

On dark wings we fly, Honor bound to the sky, For Maryland we'll always soar ...

Once the Ravens organization green-lighted a fight song, the music was born first. Modell sought and received a demo tape of the fight-song music from Jeff Tyzik, an arranger on Johnny Carson's "Tonight" show. Modell says he considered bouncing the music off longtime Disney lyricist Alan Menken, but Modell couldn't help himself. He picked up a pad and pen and commenced composing.

"The lyrics almost wrote themselves."

Fight songs, by design, should be short, punchy and memorable. Fans, no matter their vocal disabilities, must be able to sing the song -- especially after a few cold pops. If only Celine Dion or Barry Gibb can hit the high notes, then you have a hit song, not a fight song.

Kids (if you're reading at home), it's important to throw in the team and town names, maybe the name of your state. And when writing a fight song, it doesn't hurt to include multiple uses of the word "FIGHT." Uppercasing is encouraged.

But what a fight song really needs is a hook. And no one knows a fight song hook better than John Ziemann, president of Baltimore's Marching Ravens, formerly the marching you-know-whos.

"With the Colts' song, we had FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT," Ziemann (( says, singing it over the phone. (Excuse me, but if two grown men can sing over the phone, we should give the new song a fighting chance.) "When I first heard the new fight song, I looked at John Modell and said we got a hit."

Here is Modell singing the third stanza. Listen for the hook.

For Glory we vie, and our town will stand high, to our foes we say nevermore!

Yes, no Ravens fight song should be without a reference to Poe's "The Raven." The "nevermore!" hook will be the rallying cry of all Ravens fans, Ziemann predicts. Nevermore shall Kordell Stewart romp through our end zone! Nevermore shall the Ravens blow fat leads! Quoth the Modell, Nevermore!

"In a way, it's like saying, we're not going to be tread on anymore. We're Baltimore. And we're the greatest football city in the country."

'Cause it's FIGHT, FIGHT with all of our might, For our old Baltimore!

For those who haven't heard Modell sing, the marching band will ZTC be all over the new anthem at tonight's pre-season opener. Throughout the season, you'll hear the fight song during half-times, after Ravens scores, just about any time the mood strikes up the band.

In time, you might hear the song in your sleep.

The fight song does have a jaunty, collegiate taste to it. "It also sounds like an old song," Modell says. Again, this is by design. It's important for a new team to have a new, old-sounding fight song. It can't sound modern, and "funky" is out of the question.

It's been learned that an "alternative" Ravens Fight Song was penned (at 501 N. Calvert St.) in honor of the new stadium and to the tune of the Commodores' "Brick House." The lyrics begin: It's a Brick ... House, we're FIGHTY FIGHTY, just letting it all hang out. For all the right reasons, the song was not submitted to Modell for consideration.

Still, FIGHTY FIGHTY ain't a bad hook.


Baltimore Ravens' Fight Song

Flying High

Fierce pride in our eye

The Ravens of Baltimore

On dark wings we fly

Honor bound to the sky

For Maryland we'll always soar

For Glory we vie

And our town will stand high

To our foes we say nevermore!

'Cause it's FIGHT, FIGHT

With all of our might

For our old Baltimore

Pub Date: 8/08/98

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