The Nassoons, Princeton University’s oldest (and in my biased opinion best) men’s a cappella singing group have a small part in the recently released movie “Admission,” starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. They are singing one of their signature songs, The Tigertown Blues, in Blair Arch, when Princeton admissions officer Portia Nathan, played by Fey, breaks through their ranks.
In the movie you hear the Nassoons for only about twenty seconds. To listen to the same song in its entirety, click here, turn up the volume, and enlarge your screen. In this video they are singing at a recent performance at the Friends School in Moorestown, New Jersey. These young gentlemen of song and their predecessors of recent years have added lots of choreography to the arrangement, which makes it even more of an audience pleaser.
The tempo and rhythm have varied over the years, but the words, melody, and harmonization are the same as when I wrote the song way back in 1946.
Actually I had written the music and the arrangement two years earlier, while I was at the Naval Supply Corps School at Harvard, but I changed the words for the newly reorganized, post-WWII Nassoons. We introduced the song at our debut, as part of a joint Princeton and Dartmouth glee clubs concert in Princeton’s Alexander Hall.on Friday night, November 22, 1946. The song was an immediate hit, even though I was chosen to sing the opening solo that first year. Later on it became a Nassoons’ tradition for the current president to sing the solo.
When I wrote the lyrics Princeton was an all-male college. After the University finally began admitting women as undergraduates in 1969, I updated the words to reflect the fact that Princeton was now coeducational, but the Nassoons at that time decided they would stick with the original lyrics and treat The Tigertown Blues as a “period piece.”
It seemed to make no difference to their audiences, and the song has remained one of their perennial favorites with their admiring fans of all ages to this day. The original Nassoon arrangement is included in the Centennial Edition of the University’s song book, Carmina Princetonia (G. Schirmer, Inc., 1968).