Some things just keep… hanging on.
The girl (or guy) you asked out to the movie, and end up spending the rest of your life with.
The spunky puppy you saw in a shopping mall window, and made an impulse decision to take home.
The simplistic but catchy rock song you heard as a kid on the radio, and still play 58 years later.
“Hang on Sloopy”
Written by “a high school kid in St. Louis,” the iconic rock tune, “Hang on Sloopy”, was initially recorded and released by The Vibrations in 1964 as “My Girl Sloopy,” and essentially went nowhere. For most songs, that’s game over.
In 1965 it was re-recorded by The McCoys, retitled “Hang on Sloopy,” and quickly skyrocketed to #1 in America on the Billboard Hot 100.
Most hit songs have a moment in the sun, and then done. Not Sloopy.
In the fall of 1965 a music arranger for the Ohio State University Marching Band begged the band director to play the song at a home football game. He created a killer arrangement, and the band performed the song in front of the crowd.
Initially the reaction wasn’t great, BUT here’s a quote from the Ohio State Marching Band website:
“Fans at first were not entirely enthusiastic about the tune, partially due to the inclement weather occurring when it was performed. However, later in the game and at the following home games, the fans demanded, ‘We want Sloopy!'”
Now, 58 years later, Sloopy is still hanging on, being performed before the 4th quarter of every Ohio State Buckeye home football game.
How many states adopt official rock songs? I could find only two… Washington adopted “Louie, Louie” as its official song in 1985. So when an Ohio congressman learned what Washington was about to do, he proposed Sloopy to the Ohio legislature.
On November 20, 1985, “Hang on Sloopy” became the official rock song of Ohio (my birthplace).
You’d think reaching #1 in the nation, becoming the official song of a major college football team, then 20 years later becoming the official rock song of its respective state would be enough “hanging on” legacy.
But Sloopy keeps hanging on…
It’s now an official song of major league baseball’s Cleveland Indians.
It’s played at Cleveland Cavaliers professional basketball games.
It’s played before the 4th quarter of Cleveland Browns football games.
Success is something we try to hang onto once we have it. But something I’ve learned about success that’s somewhat ironic, and reminds me of Sloopy, is best characterized by the words of William Feather:
“Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.”