We are the Knights of Carleton, we've come to sing for you
To bring some cheer, to warble a song--that's what we aim to do
It is our true desire to entertain you through and through (and through)
So if you like us, well that's fine. And if not, that's too bad--for you.
Yes, we're the Knights of Carleton (oh yes we are)
~lyrics by Larry Gregg '61
In the fall of 1955, Dixon Bond '59 arrived on the campus of Carleton College intending to start a male octet. Soon thereafter, Dixon and seven other Carleton men formed a group called the Carltunes. An old album jacket claims the Carltunes "put on their first show after only three days rehearsal!" It wasn't long before the Carltunes changed their name to the Carleton Singing Knights and began to form the traditions that make the Knights such an important part of Carleton past and present.
Since 1955, the Knights have recorded 14 albums and spread their music across the United States on numerous tours. The first recording, titled simply Knights of Carleton, was made by the original group in 1959 and features such classic tunes as Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair, Mood Indigo, September Song, Ride the Chariot, and Good Night Ladies. Many of these songs appeared on every album up until the 1980s. A 25th year anniversary album was recorded in 1980 entitled Knights of Carleton 25 Years Later, and featured the songs that had been sung by the Knights during their first 25 years. Soon after this album, the Knights began to abandon many of their traditional songs in favor of a more current and rapidly changing repertoire. For instance, the songs on the 1993 album Twelve Knights in A Row were almost entirely different from those which appeared on a 1990 effort. Songs from these albums include favorites such as Monkey Song (From Disney's animated version of The Jungle Book), Solsbury Hill, Starfish and Coffee, and Time of the Season.All is not lost from the first 25 years, however, as the Knights always keep a handful of traditional tunes (among them Mood Indigo, Fair Carleton, It's You, Steal Away, Golden Times, and the Alma Mater) ready at all times.
According to old travel logs, the Knights have sung in over 25 states and such cities as New York, Washington, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, Boston, Chicago, Portland (Oregon), and Philadelphia. Many of the early tours were limited to the Midwest, but by 1967 the Knights were traveling as far as the east coast in order to bring their music to alumni, prospective students, and the general public.
No history of the Knights of Carleton could ever be complete without mentioning their number one fan, Dacie Moses. Dacie supplied the original Knights with a house to rehearse in and (according to an old press release) an icebox to raid. Dacie passed away in 1985, but she still remains an inspiration to the Knights. They continue to rehearse every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday night at her house on Union Street in Northfield. Dacie's favorite song, Steal Away, is performed at every concert in her memory.
It may seem as though the Knights have changed drastically over the pas 50 years. In many ways they have, but for the most part they are still the creative, entertaining, and committed group that Dixon Bond started in 1955. The Knights pride themselves on the group's many traditions, some of which began 50 years ago. For instance, the Knights have performed their end-of-term concert on the last day of classes for as long as anyone can remember, and the Knights Song (written by Larry Gregg '61) is still heard, perhaps to the amused frustration of many audience members, each and every time the Knights perform. Every year the Knights perform during Reunion Weekend, roaming tables and appearing at dinners, luncheons, and receptions, introducing the President of the College, singing with former Knights, and serenading a few lucky ladies. It's during Reunion, especially, that the Knights' deep and lasting connection with Carleton past and present is truly apparent.