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Exactly when and how the "woo" was added to the chorus of "Rocky Top" is a bit of a mystery.

8:59 AM, Feb 4, 2011   |    comments
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Tennesee Cheerleaders lead the crowd in "Rocky Top"

If you've been to a University of Tennessee sporting event, you have no doubt heard the song "Rocky Top" a number of times.

What you may not have noticed is a small word inserted in the chorus of the song that was not put their by the song's writers, Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, when "Rocky Top" was penned in 1967.

It's a small change adding the word "woo", and it has caused considerable ado.

In October, 1972, the Pride of the Southland Band played "Rocky Top" at halftime of the Alabama game.  The song soon became a fixture at Vols' athletic events. 

"They played the song as part of a grouping of of country music songs for a halftime performance," said University of Tennessee Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations Bud Ford.  "It kind of picked up, everybody liked it. "

Exactly when and how the "woo" was added to the chorus of the song is a bit of a mystery.  Most believe it started in the mid to late 1990's, but there is no consensus on when it began.

"I guess the students picked it up and the fans picked it up and probably to some extent," said Ford, "I would say most likely it started with the band.  Although I couldn't tell.  Because the band when they first did it, would sing the chorus."

However it started, it hasn't won over everyone.  Before the start of the 2009 season, a Facebook page was launched to drop the woo.  Knoxville's Bob McClellan said he started the page as a joke.

"I didn't like the woo." said McClellan.  "I grew up when there was no woo.  When I went to school there was no woo.  I left town for 10 years and I came back and there was a woo."

Some fans are on the fence when it comes to this issue.  They aren't sure whether or not they should "woo".

"No, I don't woo," said Morristown's Lynn Dawson.  "I probably should woo, but I don't.  WHY NOT?  You know, my wife woos a lot but I try not to woo.  I let her do the wooing.  We don't woo together very well, so I let her handle it."

At sporting events, at least in our view, there were not many who did not "woo".  Some may not like it, but there seem to be few who don't enjoy a good, spirted "woo".

"I'm definitely a woo-er," said UT student Richard "Sully" Sullivan.  "I think it gives it a little something extra.  Not that it's bad without it but it kinda, I think it gets the crowd going a little more."

"As far as I can remember, it's always been there," Sullivan added.  "Maybe because I'm a little younger, but I just kinda feel like the Woo generation.  See?  The students obviously, I think it may be a generational thing, I don't know."
 
Tennessee Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt has been known to launch into renditions of "Rocky Top", famously singing the song during a TV timeout at a Vols' game.

"I do like the woo," said Summitt.  "I guess because I always like to sing Rocky Top anyway."

Like other students, many of the athletes also have taken to the "woo".

"I definitely am a woo-er, for sure," said Lady Vol Alicia Manning.  "You know, that's like my favorite part is the woo part.  Because you've got to like really 'woo'; you've got to get into it."

The songwriters' son agrees.  In a statement released through the House of Bryant Publications, Del Bryant said:

"We love to hear the fans sing this song and the 'woo' is a great way of capping off any cheer.  Go Vols!  Woo!!"

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