Written in 1906 by Charles A. Zimmerman (music) and Alfred Hart Miles (lyrics), this triumphant anthem is the fight song of the United States Naval Academy and the unofficial march song of the United States Navy. It takes its name from a sailors' expression indicating the anchors have been hauled up and the ship is ready to set sail.
For his duties as bandmaster, Lieutenant Zimmerman generally composed a new march for each graduating class so he was the ideal candidate to help Miles write a march for the class of 1907. Miles, a Midshipman First Class, explained his classmates "were eager to have a piece of music that would be inspiring, one with a swing to it so that it could be used as a football marching song, and one that would live forever." The men allegedly sat side by side at a chapel organ with Miles writing the verses as Zimmerman played the music.
This originally had two verses. A third verse was added by Midshipman Royal Lovell and later revised by George D. Lottman in 1926, which includes the well-known refrain "Anchors Aweigh, my boys, Anchors Aweigh." In 1997, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy John Hagan revised the lyrics to broaden its scope ("farewell to college joys" is replaced by "farewell to foreign shores").
According to the US Naval Academy website
, this was possibly first performed at the Class Supper for the grads, but there's no record of it. The first mention of an "Anchors Aweigh" performance was at the Farewell Ball on February 12, 1906, while the first public performance was during the Army-Navy football match at Franklin Field in Philadelphia on December 1, 1906. The fight song proved to be a good-luck charm for the Navy team, who bested their rival for the first time since 1900 by a score of 10-0.
Columbia Gramophone Company produced the first commercial recording in 1920, including Zimmerman's tune and Adolph Torovsky's "March of the Middies" (Torovsky succeeded Zimmerman as director of the Naval Academy band after Zimmerman's death in 1916). It was also recorded by Ozzie Nelson and His Orchestra, The Boston Pops, and Bing Crosby, who included it as part of a medley on his 1961 album 101 Gang Songs. A version by the US Navy Band was included on the 1998 album Victory At Sea.
This was used on The Muppet Show in 1980 as part of a musical battle at sea. Gonzo and his ship full of chickens come to the rescue to the tune of "Anchors Weigh" when pirate Black Jackson (Glenda Jackson) holds the Muppet Theatre hostage.
This is also the name of a 1945 movie musical starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra as sailors on leave in Los Angeles. The song appears a couple times in the film, played by the MGM Orchestra (led by Jose Iturbi) and sung by kid actor Dean Stockwell.
The first film to use the song was 1929's The Flying Fleet, starring Ramon Novarro and Anita Page. It was also used in these movies:
Iron Man 2 (2010)
The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)
Men Of Honor (2000)
I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Down Periscope (1996)
Hiding Out (1987)
The Right Stuff (1983)
An Officer And A Gentleman (1982)
South Pacific (1958)
For Me And My Gal (1942)
And in these TV series:
Girls ("Homeward Bound" - 2016)
Mildred Pierce ("Part Four" - 2011)
The Simpsons ("Simpson Tide" - 1998; "The Strong Arms Of The Ma" - 2003)
Sex And The City ("Anchors Away" - 2002)
JAG ("We The People" - 1997)
Miami Vice ("Out Where The Buses Don't Run" - 1985)
M*A*S*H ("None Like It Hot" - 1978)
According to the lyrics, part of the Navy sailors' triumph will be sinking their enemies' bones to Davy Jones. That's not some sort of ominous premonition about The Monkees singer of the same name. Davy Jones' Locker is a euphemism for the bottom of the sea - a final resting place for drowned sailors and pirates. British actor Bill Nighy portrayed the supernatural ship captain in the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise.