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Breaking News: Pat Rick Identifies the Definitive List of Top 10 Backer Songs

Pat was asked to write about Backer songs and after 6,000 words, it’s now very clear how much Pat loves the Backer

It’s one of those nights.

Hot, humid air that can be sliced with a knife immediately dampens everything it envelops. Loud, familiar music blasts forcefully into your eardrums as countless bodies collide with you in the ultimate display of unconscious collusion to keep you from advancing further across the room. A floor cocktail of the foulest order beckons from below — that mushy collection of beer cast asunder, grime stripped from shoes worn in various terrains, disfigured remnants of plastic cups and popcorn, and a few mystery ingredients, about which you’d rather not know any details.

It’s one of those Friday nights at the Linebacker Lounge before a Notre Dame Fighting Irish home football Saturday, and you’re in your happy place.

You raise your Long Island or your already lukewarm 32-ounce beer to the ceiling as you slither through the crowd and triumphantly reconnect with the friends you lost for just a few moments while you were at the bar. Whatever song that’s playing is fine, and everyone is dancing and singing, but the effort is mediocre at best.

Then, as that song fades into the night, the initial notes of one of THE Backer classics slaps you in the face and forces you to reflexively scream with delight as the rest of your crew, along with scores of strangers young and old, do the same.

Immediately, the dancing picks up the pace. The lyrics are shouted with gusto. People hop and twirl and spin and leap into each other’s arms as there is somehow simultaneously no room to move and yet plenty of room for all types of dancing. You and your squad allow the music and the rhythm and the shared experience of sweating uncontrollably with strangers to consume you, and yet another perfect Backer night occurs like clockwork.

21-year-old Pat Rick cuttin’ a rug at the Backer

But what kinds of songs could have such an effect on numerous groups of people that have nothing in common except the University and bar that they love?

That’s what I’m going to try to answer in this article.

With the lack of sports news to write about, I once again took to trusty ole Facebook and Twitter to see if there was anything specific my friends and followers wanted to read about over the coming weeks/months of quarantine. I got PLENTY of responses, and considering the long time we might have until anything newsworthy happens in the Irish sports world, I figured I would turn as many of those questions into full-length solo articles as I could, instead of the usual massive Q&A piece.

This first prompt came courtesy of my good friend Kevin Eller, whom you may remember as a key source in my Taio Cruz/Dynamite/Royal British Family investigation last year. Kevin, like me, is a huge fan of the Backer, and so he commented the following on my Facebook status:

I would like to see an article answering what are the definitive top ten Backer songs, with detailed analysis about why each one deserves the spot it’s in.

Kevin, can I say “yes” to you?

I immediately began to outline all of the songs that I consider “Backer Songs.” To clarify, “Backer Songs,” to me, are songs you can expect to hear just about every time you go to the Backer, and do not typically include a lot of current, popular chart-toppers. These are the songs that have stuck around, that have found a niche audience among Backer Believers, and that have made the Backer experience possible. Shout out to DJ Drew and whoever the new DJ is now that DJ Drew has retired from his post — they were, and are, the driving force behind this list.

After pulling my initial list together, I used a Spotify playlist or two as a helpful spot-check to ensure I didn’t miss any big hitters, and then I went about the EXCRUCIATING task of trying to narrow my list of 20+ songs to a Top 10 Definitive Top Backer Songs list.

After bawling for several hours and taking days to recover both mentally and spiritually from that exercise, I then had to take my Top 10 and rank them. If you know me at all, you know that’s like asking me to rank my favorite characters in Remember the Titans or to rank my favorite scenes involving Pawnee townsfolk in Parks and Rec. Can I do it? Probably. Will it be super hard and tear me apart and leave me with something I will probably disagree with the following morning? You bet.

Anyway, without further ado, let’s dive into my list — you’ve listened to me ramble long enough, and I think we’re all itching to start grooving to some beautiful Backer beats.

First, Songs That Will Never Make My List Even Though They Often Get Played at Backer

The below three songs I hear at the Backer either every time I go, or nearly every time, and I just want to be very clear that they are garbage and even if they are very “Backer-ish” songs, they do NOT deserve to be on any top list of Backer songs, ever.

“Wobble by V.I.C.

This song and the accompanying dance are complete trash. I refuse to do them and you should too. I normally am in the camp of “like whatever music you want, music is subjective.” But no one should like this song, especially not 12 years after its release.

“Wannabe” by the Spice Girls

This is one of the most obnoxious songs of all-time, and I really do not understand the hype. Like nails on a chalkboard.

“Rocky Top” by The Osborne Brothers

This is a Tennessee song, and it’s not even fun or that catchy. It just stinks. Stop playing it at the Backer, please and thank you.

Honorable Mention

Okay, now that we’ve got Pat’s vitriol toward a few specific songs out of the way, let’s move forward into the good stuff. This section is for songs that didn’t qualify as a Finalist in this made-up process of mine, but that deserve mention because I often hear them at the Backer and they’re pretty great songs.

“September” by Earth, Wind, & Fire

Let me start this explanation by saying that “September” is one of my favorite songs of all-time. It is timeless and fantastic and is up there with #3 in the Top 10 Backer Songs list below for being the best cross-generational groove tune of all-time — small childre, baby boomers, and everyone in between absolutely loves this song.

With that said, I do not associate “September” with the Backer specifically. Rather, it definitely makes me think more of wedding reception dance floors, and so I just didn’t feel I could limit it by calling it a “Backer Banger.” It’s an Honorable Mention, but nothing more in this very specific list.

“Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver

If you’ve been to the Backer, you know it has some very country-ish vibes at times, and so it’s not a big surprise that whenever “Take Me Home, Country Roads” gets played, everyone belts out the words.

However, I think there are simply better and “more Backer-ish” country-type songs to be mentioned, and since this song is a little tougher to dance to than others, it doesn’t earn a spot on a Backer list, considering how much dancing happens at Backer.

“Like a Prayer” by Madonna

“Like a Prayer” is an absolute banger of a song, and definitely my personal favorite Madonna track. But again, I don’t normally specifically associate it with the Backer when I hear it, even though it’s often played there. Thus, I felt I should remind you how good it is, but only give it an Honorable Mention for the purposes of this task.

“Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show

Like “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Wagon Wheel” is a popular, overplayed country song that everyone will sing along to when it’s played — and the Backer definitely plays it often.

However, you hear this song everywhere at this point, so again, not the most Backer-unique song out there. It warrants a mention here, but nothing more.

One thing I will note that I love about this song at the Backer specifically, though: after the line “heeyyyyyy, momma rock me” in the chorus, a bunch of people at Backer — especially my friends — then shout out “ROCK ME! ROCK ME! ROCK ME!” during the slight break in lyrics in the song. That rocks.

Of course, when I hear this song elsewhere and do that, I get a lot of weird looks and no one joins in, so that’s not as fun.

Runners Up (Think “First Four Out” in March Madness Language)

Okay, here’s where my cuts really began to take a toll. I love these songs to death and feel they are VERY “Backer-ish,” but with only 10 spots to allocate in my Top 10 and so many heavy hitters I HAVE to include, some great songs were gonna get left out. Here are the four that just missed my list, and it breaks my heart.

“Come On Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners

Few songs have a more Backer-y vibe than this song, as it’s a fantastic tune to dance to with an old-timey feel. Furthermore, it’s one of those songs that a lot of people don’t really know that many words to, besides the chorus, which makes the chorus that much more inspired and electric, as everyone jumps in to scream it as the music builds to that point.

With that said, this just missed the Top 10, really through no fault of its own. It probably makes the list for a lot of people and I wouldn’t question that decision at all, but when the dust settled on my list, there just wasn’t space for “Come On Eileen.”

“My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion

If you’re surprised by the presence of a Celine Dion ballad in this article, you clearly have never been to Backer. Celine PLAYS with the Backer clientele, and so there’s probably a great number of you, already seething about “Come On Eileen” being left out, now seeing this omission from the Top 10 and crazily preparing to eviscerate me in the comments. And, I understand — this song builds and gets the Backer crowd to PASSIONATELY sing along, and it’s pretty wonderful.

However, Celine has another song that, in my opinion, is better AND goes harder at Backer than “My Heart Will Go On,” and with such incredible competition for those 10 spots, I couldn’t justify giving Celine 20% of the real estate.

Also, one final point: I have never seen, and likely will never see, Titanic. I know how it ends, and the story that leads to that ending doesn’t really interest me that much. So, anyone who wants to use Titanic as an extra argument as to why this song is great enough to include in the Top 10, please spare me — I don’t wanna hear it.

“How Can We Be Lovers” by Michael Bolton

Honestly, I kept asking myself throughout this process why I hadn’t eliminated this song yet, and it took me a while to understand why it made it so far. However, I finally put my finger on it late in the game, realizing that Michael Bolton’s classic song was an EXTREMELY Backer tune that I just have very few dancing/singing memories attached to in my 8 years of frequenting that wonderful bar.

This is one of those songs that is played EVERY night at Backer, but it always seems to be the song you notice playing as you get another drink at the bar or are just taking a break from dancing your ass off to more hype songs. It’s a good song with some good passion/emotion and it’s fun to sing along to, but it’s almost always a song I notice playing in between some of the bangers in the Top 10 below.

With that said, it can’t make the Top 10 list, but it damn sure is an integral part of the Backer experience and NEEDED to be given Honorable Mention.

“Go! Cubs! Go!” by Steve Goodman

Real Backer-onians know what I’m talking about with this one — “Go! Cubs! Go!” is a ridiculous, goofy, corny song that I have only ever heard in one other location...Wrigley Field.

However, it’s that ludicrous moment when it blares over the Backer speakers and that cheesy vibe it has that make it such a perfect fit for the crowd of band kids, alumni dads, and miscellaneous other folks comprising the Backer dance floor at any given time.

It’s less of a “Backer Banger” and much more of a fun, stupid tradition, which is why I can’t bring myself to put it in the Top 10. But damnit if this song didn’t sneak into becoming a song I now expect to hear at the Backer, and get excited for every single time.

The Notre Dame Victory March Gets Its Own Section

The Backer has a specific closing sequence that almost all of you are familiar with, and so I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention all three closing songs in this article for the best and “most Backer” songs of all-time. However, one of those three is the Notre Dame Victory March, and so I just wanted to give it the shout-out it deserves without having it take up any of the valuable song rankings in this article.

We all know it’s the greatest fight song in the world, but we also associate it with ND’s band and sports programs and campus. Furthermore, it’s not a song to dance to or even really sing besides just shout-singing the lyrics while clapping and doing a couple other hand motions, and for the purposes of this Backer songs list, I wanted to include the songs that make the Backer unique and super fun, not the song you hear 1,000 times each football season.

So, I’m giving it its own special place of honor here, but refuse to put it in my list of top 10 songs below. The Victory March is perfect in its own right, but is NOT a Backer Banger.

P.S. It IS the only song I’ve ever seen Hank Schrader from Breaking Bad sing at any bar, so it does have that going for it...

The Definitive List of Top 10 Backer Songs

Alright folks, it’s that moment that a very small number of you were legitimately waiting for — it’s time for me to give you my Top 10 Backer Songs. Kevin, this section is for you!

10. “Callin’ Baton Rouge” by Garth Brooks (or the Oak Ridge Boys? IDK)

I had never heard this song until I began going to the Backer, you guys.

Hell, until recently, I didn’t even know Garth Brooks recorded what I understand to be the most popular version of “Callin’ Baton Rouge” (the version that I believe is played at the Backer at least — everyone feel free to correct me on that).

But by the time I graduated college, I knew most of the words to this song by heart (or at least what to mumble unintelligibly very quickly as the song picks up), and even more so developed a natural reaction to get SUPER pumped whenever the first few notes come crashing over the Backer sound system.

That appreciation and passion for the song can certainly be traced to two friends of mine, Ross and Jason, who had a particular affinity for the song and were usually the ones badgering DJ Drew to play it every weekend night. Those two would go absolutely bananas every time DJ Drew finally relented to their obnoxious requests, and their enthusiasm for the song was infectious as hell.

Furthermore, the song just has a super Backer vibe. It’s a song a lot of people know, but not everyone, and it’s got that upbeat, dancey, country twang to it that is perfect for a bunch of drunk idiots to hop around screaming as they slosh their beer all over numerous strangers.

I always think of the Backer when I hear this song, because of those happy moments with Ross and Jason, and so with the combination of it being a great song and it being something I almost exclusively associate with that bar, it had to be included in the list.

9. “I Want It That Way” by The Backstreet Boys

I’m going to be quite frank with a lot of you.

I am WELL aware that “I Want It That Way,” while a song we can all agree is a classic and absolutely beautiful on its own, may not be something a lot of you would have put on your Top 10 Backer Songs list.

Is it usually played there? You bet. Does everyone belt it out and get very into it? Count on it. But I have a feeling there are some songs above — “My Heart Will Go On” or “Come On Eileen,” perhaps — that you would probably use to replace this song, if you had the power.

Luckily for me, you don’t have any power here.

Let me explain, though, to hopefully make this choice at #9 a little easier to digest for all you Backer Fanatics.

“I Want It That Way” holds a very special place in not only my heart, but also the hearts of some of my closest college friends. You see, at some point in our Backer-going careers, we began a very special, meaningful tradition centered entirely around singing this song — well, at least centered entirely on singing something resembling this song.

For reasons I no longer remember, whenever this song is played, we make a point to call our RA from our sophomore year in Stanford Hall — Franco is his name — and scream this song with slightly altered lyrics into the phone as we pass it around and make sure we all are heard by Franco.

The lyrics can change slightly from performance to performance, but the below image — which shows what I wrote on Franco’s Facebook wall for his birthday in 2012 — should give you a good idea of what we sing to him each time.

Lyrics to “I Want It Franco” as performed by Pat, Luke, and the Rest of the Goon Squad

The first few times, Franco would answer the call and patiently listen to the drunkards on the other end serenade him with the wonderful sound of his first name slurred over and over again. However, Franco is a very smart man, and he soon picked up on the fact that any Friday night call during football season from one of his 2010/2011 Stanford residents was going to be this same strange and personal ritual. So, he began letting it go to voicemail, and I assume he now listens every Saturday morning to each 4-minute voicemail we leave him (and probably saves all of them to reminisce on, of course).

We have since continued this tradition any time we are either at the Backer and hear this, or even just when a few of us are in the same place and it comes on. At the wedding of our friends Andy and Alison last October, when we heard “You fiiiiiire” coming from the wedding DJ’s speakers, we immediately whipped out a phone call to Franco to make sure he heard us scream it while drinking a bunch of Hamm’s.

It’s a unique link between our friends and a way for us to stay connected with one of our favorite RAs from our time in the Cinderblock Palace of Love (Stanford Hall) — so there’s no way I would leave it off this list.


8. “Walking on Broken Glass” by Annie Lennox

Back to songs I think we can all agree on here — “Walking on Broken Glass” is INCREDIBLY Backer-ish. It’s a fantastic dance tune, eccentric enough to not be something you hear all the time at major events, but also well-known enough for everyone to sing along and know the beat to dance to.

Additional advantage for Annie Lennox’s absolute BOP of a song: my friend Andy, whom we often affectionately call “Sandy,” has the “Sandy Dance” that he does to this song, which is basically him rhythmically pantomiming the action of walking on broken glass. It’s an absolute spectacle on a crowded dance floor and provides endless entertainment for the 4 minutes and 13 seconds the song lasts.

7. “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers

This one also shouldn’t be a surprise, but I think the reason I have it in my Top 10 may not be what you’re expecting.

You see, this song from The Proclaimers is a Backer staple. The Backer has always been a popular bar for members of the Fighting Irish band, and those band members apparently have an entire dance for “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),” which they shamelessly execute every time this comes on at the bar.

My aforementioned friend Sandy and I are not such big fans of this song, at least at face value. We don’t think it’s a very good song, and when we both have a few Long Islands in us, it’s hard for us to withhold our displeasure for how annoying we think the song can be. If we HAD suppressed that displeasure, you’d probably find this song above with the likes of “Wobble” and “Wannabe.”

Sandy and I, though, are idiots/assholes sometimes. We latched on to the part after the second chorus when the Proclaimers shout “da da da! (da da da!)” numerous times, and repurposed that reckless shouting for our own evil and chaotic objectives. We want to ruin the song, every time, because it is in ruining a bad song that we actually make it a good and fun song. Sound logic, right?

So, we wait until after the first official “da da da! (da da da!)” has passed and The Proclaimers are launching into another verse, and then Sandy and I flip the switch. I scream “DUH DUH DUH!!!” confusing a bunch of strangers around us. Sandy immediately provides the response to my call, shouting back “DUH DUH DUH!” as band members, mid-dance, shoot us some glares.

We keep this up during the rest of the song, at any and all moments that were not originally designed by The Proclaimers to be “DUH DUH DUH!” parts. The band kids get mad, our friends typically join in because it seems fun, and eventually Sandy and I begin to point at strangers to join in our screams and wave our fingers like orchestra conductors and just immerse ourselves completely in destroying the song that others know and love.

This is something we essentially only do at the Backer, and it’s damn sure what makes this song force me to reminisce on the Backer anytime I hear it or hear of it. It’s incredibly fun and a very fond memory I have with Sandy specifically.

Thus, it HAD to be part of my Top 10 for that reason — duh, duh, duh.

6. “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” by Celine Dion

This is Celine Dion’s best song — full stop.

It starts slow and dramatic and does a great job setting the scene for what’s to come, regaling us with a super exciting first couple stanzas of lyrics:

There were nights when the wind was so cold

That my body froze in bed if I just listened to it

Right outside the window

There were days when the sun was so cruel

That all the tears turned to dust

And I just knew my eyes were drying up forever (forever)

From there, everyone in the entire Backer institution — young and old, man and woman, band kid and non-band kid — seems to sing along, closing their eyes and gesturing wildly to convey just how passionate and emotional this song is making them feel.

It all builds to a fantastic payoff by the end, as most evidently displayed by my friend Krystal, who has, on more than one occasion, used the crescendo of the song as justification to take a running leap into my arms, trusting drunk Pat to quickly hand his Long Island to someone else and catch her before she falls violently to the sludge-covered floor. Honestly, it’s one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen, and thankfully I haven’t failed to catch her yet.

So yeah, if everyone is singing along with tangible zeal and the song builds to an incredible finish that even sometimes drives people to take wild leaps of faith into their friends’ arms, then yes, this deserves the #6 spot in the list, without question.

5. “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood

Considering how much of an eclectic, dance-y bar the Backer is, it’s definitely a little surprising that a jingoistic, non-dancing song like “God Bless the USA” could crack the upper half of the rankings.

However, considering this song is part of that famous trio of closing songs and is not just the fight song, I didn’t see any way I could leave it out of the Top 5. When this song gets played, it signals the beginning of the end, and without fail, everyone finds their way to their friends to do some classic Notre Dame swayin’-and-singin’.

Everyone still remaining at the Backer at 2:50 AM, whether drunk or really drunk, willingly puts their sweaty arms around each other to form small (or sometimes huge) circles on the dance floor. They then sing along with Mr. Lee Greenwood at full volume, constantly trying to one-up each other in their display of patriotism and Backerism.

At some point, someone also always hops into the middle of the swaying circle to serve as the hype man for the squad as the song builds, spinning around to point at specific members of the human chain and drive home the most important parts of the song, which are:

  1. Poignant remembrances of “the men who died”
  2. Extremely glad reassurances that we will “stand UP, next to you” and “defend her still today”
  3. God blessing the USA

As I wrote about this, I thought about what it must be like for the Backer staff to watch everyone act like this every single night as this song plays. Like, can you imagine viewing the next morning a video recording of the Backer dance floor during this song and suffering through the cringe of watching yourself do everything I just described above? It’d be entertaining and hilarious, but WOW.

Final note here: Lee Greenwood once retweeted me, so he will forever have earned this spot on the list...

I have been famous since 2014

...even if he did create a rip-off of this song for Canada that miiiiight cheapen it a little bit.

God Bless the USA, you guys.

4. “Africa” by Toto

“Africa” by Toto is a good song.

I wouldn’t ever say that I personally think it’s great, nor would it make any Top 10 lists for any other occasions. It’s just fine, and probably a little overplayed. There are actually other versions I prefer, or even just accompanying videos that make it a little more interesting than the song on its own:

But there are very few songs that are more “Backer” than Toto’s claim to fame, as it is 100% guaranteed to play every single night, most of the crowd loves it and gets very excited to make raining hand motions when it comes on, and it’s a very good mix of super-weird, off-beat song and song-that-everyone-knows-and-can-sing.

So, I put it here, at #4. It felt right, considering how important it is to the Backer faithful, but I wouldn’t put it any higher, considering I personally HAVE TO rank the next 3 songs ahead of it.

Let’s move on.

3. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston

Let me begin by just saying that Whitney is, as you know, the GOAT.

Obviously she made tons of awesome music in her career, but this is absolutely my favorite of hers, because I truly believe it is the best dancing song of all-time. It never fails to get any crowd of people scream-singing the lyrics, twirling each other around in a mad dash to dance with not just somebody but EVERYBODY, and strongly emphasizing the “I wanna feel the HEAT” part of the song in an unencumbered release of fervor and fire with their dance partner(s).

It instantly turns a normal group of bar-goers at the Backer into the drunkest, wildest, least-skilled dance troupe you’ve ever witnessed, and it’s just such a happy song that it’s hard not to grin ear-to-ear as you boogie to the beat with your best friends in the best bar in the world.

It’s a damn shame I couldn’t put this song in the Top 2, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Those spots are reserved for two songs that are much more unique to the Backer than this one, which you can hear at just about any bar or wedding reception that has a dance floor.

Still, all hail Whitney here, friends — she produced one of the best Backer Bangers of all-time, and we should be forever grateful for that.

2. “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey

When I explain the Backer to my non-ND friends (of which I have many — you wouldn’t know them, they go to another school), one of the first things I say to stress the weird and fun and unabashedly Backer-ish atmosphere at the Backer is that the bar plays Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” every single night, no matter the time of year.

That always stands as a bit of a shocker for Backer virgins, but also a selling point, as few fun people can resist the allure of hearing the objectively-best Christmas song of all-time in a non-festive setting, allowing it to shine as the secular banger it can also be. It’s a much more versatile song than people give it credit for, folks.

Brief detour here — here are my Top 5 Christmas Songs, and if you disagree, that sucks because you are wrong:

  1. “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey
  2. “White Christmas” by The Drifters
  3. “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” by NSYNC
  4. “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” by The Jackson 5
  5. “Feliz Navidad” by José Feliciano

Honorable Mention: Anything by Michael Bublé, Bing Crosby, or Trans-Siberian Orchestra; “Santa Tell Me” by Ariana Grande

Anyway, returning to this song — the Backer is the only bar I have ever heard play it willingly outside of Christmas season. I make the distinction of “willingly” here because, as an admitted “TouchTunes Terrorist,” I’m constantly playing songs on bars’ TouchTunes jukeboxes that most of the bar patrons and staff do NOT want to hear.

There’s this awesome, tiny dive bar a couple blocks from my apartment in Chicago called Rossi’s, for instance. I love it because it’s super dark inside, operates as cash-only, advertises that it opens at 7 AM, has a convenience store fridge where you can go grab a beer and bring it to the bar to purchase, and it sells $3.50 tallboys of Hamm’s and PBR.

Oh, AND it has TouchTunes.

My favorite thing to do when in there is to play Mariah’s Christmas classic on TouchTunes, not only because I love it and want to hear it, but also because the bartenders are so cantankerous about festive music played during non-festive times that they will actually manually skip my Mariah play and refuse to let me hear it. One time last July I played it three times in a row, thinking surely they would give in, but those guys managed to still skip it all three times.

But at Backer, they GET IT. They play “All I Want For Christmas Is You” without anyone spending 5 TouchTunes credits to “Fast Pass” it to the front of the queue.

And by the way, you can typically buy 12 credits for $5 on TouchTunes, so when I used “Fast Pass” to get the song thrice into the front of the queue that fateful July evening, the bartenders skipping it cost me about $6.25, which is nearly TWO Hamm’s tallboys.

At Backer, they sometimes give you TWO helpings of Mariah’s one wish for the holidays in one night, and the entire Backer crowd is incredibly grateful and excited about just hearing it once. The song is super upbeat and fun to dance to and even more fun to sing because of how fast it gets, and the entire dance floor lights up with the spirit of Christmas every single time.

Also, our friend group, you will not be surprised to know, has a small tradition with this song as well. My aforementioned friend Sandy is really named Andy, as discussed above. And Andy, as you probably guessed, is short for his full first name of Andrew. So, when this song plays, we will often desperately and obsessively flock to Andy on the dance floor so that we can scream “All I want for DREEEEWWWWWWWW” into his face as he puts his arms up and welcomes our love with graciousness.

So, considering this is one of the best songs of all-time — let alone the best Christmas song of all-time — and the Backer proudly plays it every night to an audience that HUNGERS to hear it, it’s no wonder it made it this high in my list. That song should be played year-round by EVERYONE, and the work the Backer is doing to drive awareness of that movement is very important.

1. “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” by The Four Seasons

We all knew it had to end this way.

No song is more closely linked with the Backer than this incredibly happy and very danceable tune from Franki Valli and his crew, considering the final third of that famous Backer Close Trio is this wonderful track.

Once the Victory March ends, there’s maybe 1-3 seconds where you can taste the anticipation in the air. Everyone in the bar knows what is about to happen, and they know it’s their last chance of the night to boogie. So, when those first few notes drop, there’s a collective cheer/jump into one final leave-it-all-on-the-floor dance with friends.

Everyone, drenched in sweat and hammered, revisits a lot of the twirling-each-other-around from earlier in the night, and others get creative with dance circles and people strutting around hilariously to the beat. The whole bar gets their last moves busted, and then emotionally accepts, as the song fades out, that it’s officially closing time.

The lights come on to reveal a truly horrific bar floor and a lot more visible perspiration than anyone even knew was possible, and the whole group is ushered unceremoniously out into the unpredictable South Bend air to try to catch a cab, walk home, or venture over to Five Guys.

No song, in my mind, will ever be more associated with a single bar than this one. “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” IS the Backer, and the Backer IS “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night).”

I mean, hell, my friends Andy and Alison came out to this song at their wedding reception, which says everything you need to know about what it means to us as loyal Backer-ites and how amazing of a song it truly is. This was a no-brainer #1 choice.


This article is currently at a little over 5800 words, and so, considering Kevin probably never expected me to write this much in response to his prompt, I feel it’s time for me to conclude this piece.

First, let me just say that this was a very difficult exercise for me that involved tons of indecision and second-guessing and flip-flopping. Furthermore, we should probably treat the Top 10 Backer Songs list as a living document, considering new songs can always establish themselves as Backer staples and weasel their way into the rankings.

For example, my friends and I have a profound love for the song “Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers, and we have made it a new goal of each Backer trip to convince the DJ to play that song. Almost always we get the DJ to play it, and almost always our small group provides the only positive reaction to the song in the entire bar.

I would have thought the Backer DJs would have caught on when we told them “we have about 50 people here who want to hear that song” and then only approximately 7 of us cheered while many more strangers booed it when it finally played, but for some reason they keep giving us what we want. So, I guess I’m just saying that the back half of the Top 10 should probably watch out for “Monster Mash” — it’s on the up-and-up.

Anyway, I know plenty of you have your own opinions on the Backer and its top 10 songs, so I’d love for you to sound off in the comments with what your Top 10 would be (and feel free to tell us the Top 10 for other South Bend bars as well).

Also, please take the below poll to have your voice heard as to which of the Top 10 you think is truly #1:


What is the one true #1 Backer Song???

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" by The Four Seasons
    (28 votes)
  • 11%
    "All I Want For Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey
    (12 votes)
  • 7%
    "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" by Whitney Houston
    (8 votes)
  • 9%
    "Africa" by Toto
    (10 votes)
  • 7%
    "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood
    (8 votes)
  • 5%
    "It’s All Coming Back to Me Now" by Celine Dion
    (6 votes)
  • 1%
    "I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)" by The Proclaimers
    (2 votes)
  • 2%
    "Walking on Broken Glass" by Annie Lennox
    (3 votes)
  • 2%
    "I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys
    (3 votes)
  • 3%
    "Callin’ Baton Rouge" by Garth Brooks
    (4 votes)
  • 18%
    None of these, your Backer rankings are an insult to The Backer
    (19 votes)
103 votes total Vote Now

With that, I’m closing up shop, guys. See you soon, and long live the Backer.