Striking Familiar Chords 

Laura Hulsey has a rule whenever Ken Singleton, UNC’s director of bands, comes to see her in her office as UNC’s degree compliance specialist: He has to sing the UNC fight song written by her father, Derryl Faber Goes.

Goes was a jazz musician who taught at UNC from 1965 to 1983, and Hulsey remembers him hunched over the piano, composing and arranging. He made a name for himself as a drummer and jazz composer. And he’s best known for writing a march that he considered his finest work.

When Goes started at UNC in the 1960s, he was thrilled to be in charge of the marching band. A perfectionist, it took him years to finish the fight song. The former Navy band member knew what it meant to write a song that UNC would use to cheer on his beloved Bears. “It was a big deal for him,” Hulsey says.

“It was something he was very proud of.”

First copyrighted in 1971, then published in 1972, it was noted as the official football song of the Broncos at that time. Goes also played in the Bronco band.

Yet it didn’t bother him when Ken Singleton, UNC’s director of bands who began teaching here in 1985, rearranged the song for a huge band and added a “Go Bears” in the middle of it.

“I have well over 100 publications and arrangements,” Singleton says, “and the fight song’s been played more than any of them combined, probably.”

Singleton acknowledges that band members like to add their own bits to a fight song, which sounds like sacrilege until you consider that bands will perform the fight song thousands of times. Singleton added a bit of the “Hallelujah” chorus and the “Stars and Stripes Forever” and Strauss’ “Horn Concerto No. 1.” It’s all in the song’s second half, and it sounds like the band’s lost its mind, Singleton says. He even named it “Fite Song” to reflect its crazy nature.

But the tune, Singleton says, is Goes’ all the way, and it’s doubtful the average sports fan hears those additions at all. Before he died at age 82, UNC honored Goes at a basketball game. A humble man, he could barely speak, he was so honored.

And, each time the Fite Song fills a stadium or a basketball court, the Bears pay tribute to the man who composed it.

–Dan England