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Military cadences are a piece of history that describes deployed life to a tee. Still used today, cadences are calls and songs used during drills, marches, and ceremonies. As a way to focus, use expression, and promote unity, the call-and-response songs are sung by military personnel, and are often referred to as Jodies, or Jody calls.
The typical types of cadence calls follow the rhythm of either 120 or 10 beats per minute. This is dependent on the situation, for example, while running, or while marching, and to also consider the speed of both activities.
This beat was first derived during the Revolutionary War during a task in which soldiers were to attach a piece of straw to one foot and a stack of hay to the other. During the drill, they would use the cadence of "hay-foot, straw-foot, hay-foot."
And in honor of it almost being Black History month, it is important to recognize that the history of cadences is derived from slave music, a mechanism that was often used to cope with the oppression by using the expression of song.
Military men borrowed the concept and used it to become a significant aspect of drills and ceremonies, and they are still used in today's military. As cadences developed over time, there were certain ones that stuck with the United States Military. We have come up with a list of the ten most popular military cadences of all time, and why they mean so much to each deployed soldier.
Out of sight
Out of mind
To begin our list of the most popular military cadences, "Fired Up!" is one of the most well-known cadences due to its positivity. With lyrics including "feeling good, gonna ride to this song," the song represents a way that most in the military would use to dedicate themselves to their job.
The chant goes on for over 100 verses, and is well worth the time to memorize. Chanted in unison, the song is one that will send shivers up your spine.
They Say That in the Army
They say that in the Army the coffee’s mighty fine
It looks like muddy water and tastes like turpentine
Oh Mom, I wanna go
But they won’t let me go
One of the most popular military cadences, "They Say That in the Army" was typically a marching cadence due to its slower pace. It is also often followed by the typical "1,2,3,4" or "left, right, left, right."
Though a bit more pessimistic of a chant, the song is one that has instilled teamwork in Army members for hundreds of years.
I Used To Sit at Home All Day
I used to sit at home all day,
Letting my life a waste away.
Then one day a man in blue,
Said son I got a job for you
Definitely a funny and lighthearted song about most military personnel's path leading up to their deployment, the chant compares life before and after being deployed. Most often chanted during drills, the song is one that will that get stuck in anyone's head.
"I used to drive a Bonneville/ Now all I do is run up a hill" and "I used to drive a Cadillac/ Now all I do is hump a pack" are some of the most popular lighthearted digs at military life.
I'm Your Steam Roller Baby
I’m a steam roller baby
Just a rollin down the line
So you better get outta my way now
Before I roll right over you
Next, on our list of the most popular military cadences is "I'm Your Steam Roller Baby" is most commonly used in the Navy. As a popular running cadence, the lyrics go on to say "I'm a US Navy sailor/ just a marchin' down the line/ So you better got outta my way now/ before I march all over you."
Short and sweet, it is filled with motivation, falls along the same beat and rhythm of most cadences, and is easy to memorize.
Down by the River
Down by the river
I took a little walk
Ran into the enemy
We had a little talk
So I pushed em
I shoved em
I threw em in the river
Laughed as they drowned
Definitely one of the least family-friendly chants, the lyrics of "ran into the enemy" are often interchanged with "China," or "Korea," and change by verse throughout the song. Though it might be a bit graphic, it matches the intensity of solder life.
To complete the chant, the song ends on a positive note, and recognizes the pride that soldiers have in their country and their job: "Hey, don’t be a fool/ Somebody said we were number two/ We’re number one/ No, not number five/ Not number four number three, number two/ We're number one."
Ah Army, Navy was ah not for me
Air Force was just ah to easy
What I need was a little bit more
I need a life that is hardcore
Parris Island where it all began
A little rock with a lots of sand
I Can't forget about a Hollywood
San Diego and it's all good
PT, Drill ah all day long
Keep it rolling from a dusk to dawn
One most popular military cadences for the Marine Corps, each verse is completed with the chant of "Marine Corps." Much like the Army's personalized cadence, the "1,2,3,4" chant means more than you can imagine to those serving for their country in the Marines.
A song that brings unity, motivation, and hope to many, "1,2,3,4" is a chant that will forever leave its mark on the history of our country.
Everybodys doin it right (Hard work, work)
Hard Work, thats what they say (Hard work, work)
Hard Work, to earn my pay (Hard work, work)
Hard Work, do it everyday (Hard work, work)
I get up bout' a quarter to three (Hard work, work)
Put my boots on and lace em' up (Hard work, work)
I got another days work (Hard work, work)
Starting off with a chant of solely "Hard work, work," the song changes to a solo chant by (typically) a U.S. Army Airborne member. The rest of the team chants "Hard work, work," as he continues the lyrics that are filled with positivity and motivation.
An upbeat and fun chant, this is perfect for motivating even the most struggling soldiers or toughest drills. And it allows the group to become in tune with each other.
Hey, Hey Whiskey Jack
Hey, hey Captain Jack
Meet me down by the railroad track
With that rifle in my hand
I'm gonna be a shootin' man
A shootin' man
The best I can
For Uncle Sam
"Hey, Hey Whiskey Jack" or "Hey, Hey Captain Jack" is one of the most popular military cadences that includes a ton of improvisation. Varying by preference, changes in the songs include the replacement of the lyrics, "With that rifle in my hand" may be replaced with "vodka," while "shootin' man" might be replaced with "stabbin' man," or "drinkin' man."
This cadence is most commonly sung during basic training, while the improvisation was often used to provide a bit of fun for the soldiers, and to keep them on their toes. The chant is never the same, from verse to verse.
C130 Rolling Down The Strip
C130 rolling down the strip
Airborn Range gonna take a little trip
We gonna stand up, hook up, shuffle to the door
We gonna jump right out, and then count to four
One of the most well-known running cadences, "C-130 Rolling Down the Strip" is a fast-paced chant that provides motivation, unity, and improvisation. As one of the most popular military cadences, this chant is one that any military personnel needs to memorize.
With lyrics like "motivated," "dedicated," and "Hollywood," this was a must to get through long runs, tough drills, and daily life as a dedicated military member.
How'd Ya Earn Your Livin'?
And when I go home
My momma she will say,
How'd ya earn your livin
how'd ya earn your pay
I reply, as i point to my bars
I earned my livin on a killin squad
To complete our list of the most popular military cadence, "How'd Ya Earn Your Livin'" is one of the most classic, motivational chants for the military. A running cadence, the chant is one filled with honesty and dedication, two true characteristics of a solider. It was the source of hope, strength, and motivation.