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The Maine Stein Song

by

Rudy Vallée



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

A Stein is a German drinking vessel, so one would hardly expect "The Maine Stein Song" to be the official State Song of Maine. According to The Tin Pan Alley Song Encyclopedia, this is "probably the only such honor bestowed on a drinking ditty".
Author Thomas Hischak adds the Maine legislature faced "difficulties in declaring such a ribald drinking number the official state song until someone pointed out that the lyric did not say that it was alcohol in the stein, that it could very well be milk, and the proposition passed."
Humorous though this sounds, it appears to be total fantasy, because as one UMaine alumnus pointed out, the Official State Song is actually "Grand State Of Maine".
Composed as an instrumental in 1901 by E. A. Fenstad, the music was adapted by A.W. Sprague in 1910; Lincoln Colcord added the lyrics. The Official Athletic Site Of The Maine Black Bears gives a slightly different origin.
Check out the UMaine Stein collection in Song Images.
The Maine "Stein Song" has its origins with undergraduate Adelbert Sprague. In 1902, while working in Bar Harbor, Sprague heard a march called "Opie," and composed the "Stein Song" melody based on the German composition. Sprague then gave the music to his roommate, Lincoln Colcord, who wrote the now familiar words. Later, Sprague joined the UMaine faculty and chaired the Department of Music. Colcord went on to sail around the world, and was an author of sea stories.

The current version of the song was written by Rudy Vallée, who was also a UMaine student, from 1921-2 before transferring to Yale. In 1929, as the host of the Fleischman Radio Hour on NBC, he introduced the song to the American public, and recorded it on Victor the following year (backed by "St Louis Blues") with a stepped-up tempo and a few word changes. It became his biggest hit, and was the number one song in America for eight straight weeks in 1930 for him and his Connecticut Yankees, and this at the height of Prohibition! It is said to have sold 350,000 copies of the sheet music and half a million records. On the disc, the song is credited to a misspelled Fentad, Colcord and Vallée.
In 1998, the book College Fight Songs: An Annotated Anthology named the Maine "Stein Song" as the nation's sixth best college fight song.
An early edition of the sheet music held by the British Library gives its title as "Opie", March and two step - in 6/8 time; Words by Lincoln Colcord, Music by E.A. Fenstad, arranged by A.W. Sprague, copyright 1910 by Carl Fischer of New York, and subtitled "THE UNIVERSITY OF MAINE STEIN SONG".
The "Stein Song" has featured in the 1936 film College Holiday and the 1952 film With A Song In My Heart.
Not everybody was enamoured with this jaunty, uptempo drinking ditty, and Harry McDaniel recorded an answer song (with Johnny Johnson and his Orchestra) based loosely on the melody which left the listener in no doubt as to what he thought of it.
Thomas Hischak refers to this song as "I'd Like to Break the Neck of the Man Who Wrote the Stein Song" and says it was recorded by Will Osbourne, which coupled with the above error and his claim about "The Man Who Broke The Bank At Monte Carlo" in the same book does rather make one question his scholarship. (thanks, Alexander Baron - London, England, for all above)
Rudy Vallée
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Comments (1):

I have a sheet music copy of the Stein Song 1930. E. A Fentad is mispelled as Fenstad. The cover is like the one on You Tube with a difference at the bottom part that includes the instruments.
I have had a lot of sheet music stored since 1971 when my grandmother died I dig it out of her basement. I am just now sorting it and will be selling all of it as my children are not interested in keeping it. All of the music is from 1850 to 1950's with Pat Boone 1957 likely being the only one after 1950.
- Barbara, Modesto, CA
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