It may have faded off into his distant memory, but Wayne Rogers still remembers well Dr. Noel Murphy’s passion for “The Carnival Song.”
Murphy was Corner Brook’s mayor back in the late 1970s when he told Rogers, who was musical director for the Sir Wilfred Grenfell College choir at the time, that he had written a tune for Corner Brook Winter Carnival.
“We were both in the Rotary Club at the time and I told him I’d love to hear it,” recalled Rogers.
After listening to the melody Murphy had come up with, Rogers offered to help develop it a bit more. The mayor agreed and Rogers went about composing a choral arrangement that helped shaped the final version of the song.
“I tried to give it a bit more of a swing feel, instead of the honky tonk sort of feel it had,” said Rogers, who is now minister of music at St. Matthews United Church in Halifax.
“I gave it a bit more bounce.”
The song was indeed catchy. Murphy also wrote the lyrics, which many Corner Brook residents might still recall. The verses list off some of the exciting things a Corner Brook winter has to offer while the chorus encourages everyone to get their carnival toques on and participate in the fun.
“He was tickled pink that he had written a song for carnival and I think he liked what I did to help it,” said Rogers.
The song could be heard on the radio, but Rogers does not recall recording it. He does recall rehearsing it with the Grenfell choir, which featured between 80 and 100 voices, in preparation for a public performance of the song.
Rogers could not recall where that public performance was.
David Smallwood was a member of the choir back then and does recall it being recorded in a room at Grenfell known as The Studio. From what he remembers, there were only about a dozen choir members involved in the recording.
Rogers said there wasn’t much buzz about the song after and Murphy seemed to leave it behind too.
“It never really went anywhere,” said Rogers. “The mayor had his hand in a million things at the time too and I think he just moved on to his next project and over really got back to the song.”
The song isn’t heard much on the radio anymore, though CFCB does play a newer version of it on occasion during carnival. According to the Corner Brook Winter Carnival committee, there aren’t usually any scheduled performances of it during the 10-day festival and there wasn’t one again this year.
The newer version of the tune can be heard on the Corner Brook Winter Carnival website. It was recorded by Corner Brook musical siblings George White and Elaine Clarke.
Rogers gave that version a listen recently and gave it a thumbs up.
“It’s not bad at all,” he said. “It’s similar to the arrangement I wrote.”
To listen to “The Carnival Song” and read its lyrics, click here: http://cornerbrookwintercarnival.ca/carnival-song/