While a faculty member at Georgia Gwinnett College, I entered a contest to compose its alma mater. That was more than a year ago, and, after a long and mysterious silence, the college has announced its two finalists. You can find them here. My entry isn’t one of them. Here it is:
We’ll Paint Tomorrow Green: download or click below to play:
My approach was that an alma mater written today should have a more contemporary sound than one written a century ago and that it should have a melody that people will be able to sing (unlike the national anthem), enjoy singing (unlike most alma maters), and sound good singing en masse. Basically, “Hey Jude” was my model.
An alma mater’s lyrics should reflect the mission and vision of the institution and characteristics of the campus. Green is GGC’s color, its slogan was “The Campus of Tomorrow,” and it’s set on clay in front of some extensive woods. Further, the lyrics should not shy away from imagery that colleges teach students to understand. As a few examples, my composition used ‘clay’ to represent creativity, ‘mirrors’ for self-knowledge, and ‘telescopes’ for knowledge of the world. Finally, it should be open-hearted.
Maybe the committee preferred a different approach, or maybe my song fails to meet my goals (i.e. it sucks). I gave myself only a day to write and record it, so that may be part of the problem.
Here are the lyrics. The rules limited me to one verse and one chorus:
Clay on our boots wherever we walk. Your words in our minds with every thought. Sweet forest air with every breath – though we cross the world.
Brothers and sisters, our hearts fill with hope. We’ve peered in mirrors and telescopes. On sunny days and stormy nights, chart the stars in our eyes!
We’ll paint tomorrow green. We’ll plant and care for dreams as they grow. The season of service is always spring – learning and loving wherever we go. We’ll paint tomorrow green. We’ll paint tomorrow green!