I Feel Like A Princeton Graduate! Ernie Ford’s “Ivy League,” 1957

We’ve got one more post — for now — on pop music from the 1950s. I mentioned in the comment thread on the “Optimism And Prosperity” post about discovering my parents’ record collection, which included some 45 RPM records from the late ’50s, when my father was a teenager, and which he later converted to reel-to-reel tape. Among the collection was the hit “Sixteen Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford. Well now an Ivy Style reader has dug up an obscure single Ford released in 1957 called “Ivy League,” which can be added to our growing list of pop culture references and parodies of the popularity of the Ivy League Look during its heyday.

The discovery was made by a young man from Germany who posted the tune to Ivy’s Facebook group, writing:

The latest post about “Have You Got Any Castles” made me remember a song by Tennessee Ernie Ford, which should become the official Ivy Style anthem.

Released in 1957 and telling the tale of a man in search for a new set of threads, the song mentions many interesting styling details from the heyday. And the change of wardrobe from his old blue suede shoes and double-breasted suits to Ivy gear seems to appeal to him, with his new “narrow tie and narrow lapel” not only being “quite in style,” but also his “tighter pleatless trousers” earning him the approval of others.

However, besides the sartorial pleasure his new love for three-button coats and cordovan shoes gives him, it primarily leads him into financial trouble, when he buys a 1957 (based on the release year of the song) Ford Thunderbird to accompany his new wardrobe. Then again, who can blame him?

Great find, young man, and here’s the tune (which skips a few times in the beginning, something those who grew up on vinyl will remember all too well). — CC

12 Comments on "I Feel Like A Princeton Graduate! Ernie Ford’s “Ivy League,” 1957"

  1. Looks like I set off a chain of posts about music on Ivy Style, keep ’em coming!

  2. Charlottesville | June 14, 2017 at 3:29 pm |

    Terrific artifact showing how deeply Ivy had penetrated the culture in 1957. Tennessee Ernie Ford is that last person I would have associated with Ivy league clothing. Please keep working on that time machine to the heyday. I am ready to go.

  3. Well, he never wore it, only parodied it, sticking with standard American Midwestern look and Grand Ol’ Opry outfits.

  4. roger sack | June 14, 2017 at 4:26 pm |

    Those look line “rollino” (roped) shoulders on his “Ivy” get-up.
    Not Ivy at the time, nor Ivy now. I was around.

  5. Charlottesville | June 14, 2017 at 4:30 pm |

    Sadly true, CC. The surprising thing to me is that the Ivy look was so well known that it could be referenced by a mainstream/country singer with confidence that his audience (and not just Esquire and Playboy readers) would readily understand the references to 3-button coats, cordovan shoes, etc. I wish good taste were as readily recognized by the masses today.

  6. @Roger

    He’s not wearing the Ivy League Look in the picture above.

    His song is a parody of Ivy.

    The image was chosen because the post is about Ford, and I deemed that the best photo I could find.

  7. Here’s a link to a recording that doesn’t skip at the beginning:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-NRsWRhgtk

    and

    Here’s a link to the label of the 45:

    http://images.45cat.com/tennessee-ernie-ford-ivy-league-capitol-2.jpg

  8. Ha ha, he’s making fun of us. Touché, Ernie.

  9. This song and the comments for the first time made me think about how “the look” was perceived by others during the hey day. I’ve always thought it was so common that it didn’t warrant jokes, but it seems that maybe I was wrong. I was born a couple of decades too late to know for myself.

  10. This little ditty ought to henceforth be the official (if tongue-in-cheek) theme song of Ivy Style. I smiled each time I heard Ernie sing “gradu-ate”.

  11. Carmelo Pugliatti | June 15, 2017 at 3:39 pm |

    Here Ernie with….Dean Martin!

Leave a Reply