A Campbell River musician is doing his part to make sure the sacrifice of our World War II and earlier veterans is not forgotten.
Graham Neville has written a tribute to his father, grandfathers and all veterans and published it in a YouTube video.
“Just wanted to write a song just to maybe help people remember because I have the feeling, just from people I talk to, that people are starting to forget Remembrance Day and the reason we have Remembrance Day,” Neville said.
The 62-year-old Neville is a retired RCMP member and comes from a family with a strong military tradition. Both his grandfathers served as well as his father.
“So I had that direct link to that. I realized that my generation, now, is the last direct links to those days because they’re all long gone – and we will be too, soon,” Neville said. “So I wanted to write the song just to get it out there to honour them, first, but to basically honour all the veterans who have ever served and even the ones that are still serving.”
The video pays specific tribute to his grandfather Charles Roland Neville (Royal Artillery, 1891-1896; Boer War, 1899-1902; WWI 1914-1918), grandfather Thomas Lindsay Hunter Collins (Royal Navy, 1912-1947; WWI 1914-1918; WWII 1939-1945) and his father Russell Neville (Royal Canadian Artillery, WWII 1939-1945). Their names and service record are displayed in the video as well as their photos and medals.
Neville wrote the song and recorded it with some help from his friend Dennean Gould and from Pipe Major Kim Clarke and the Campbell River Legion Pipe Band.
“It’s like an old-fashioned type song, of course, and having the pipes in there and everything,” he said. “And the military guys would all appreciate it, of course.”
Neville is a former pipe major of the RCMP regimental pipe band and so after writing the song he knew he wanted bagpipes on it but a full band, not just him playing by himself. So he contacted the Campbell River Legion Pipe Band.
“They were really keen on doing it and we had a lot of fun doing it together,” Neville said. “So it worked out good for sure.”
Neville doesn’t play the pipes much any more due to injuries and that’s why he turned to playing guitar more. His YouTube channel, which he puts together with Gould, involves rock music from the 1950s, ’60s, ‘70’s and ’80s.
The Remembrance Day song actually only took about 15-20 minutes to write, Neville said.
“It’s one of those that really just fell right off. The lyrics fell right out of my mouth. The tune’s actually pretty easy, it’s only a three-chord tune.”
The pipe music, which he also wrote, took longer, he said.
Neville has a recording studio downstairs in his house and that’s where all the music was written and recorded. Pipe Major Clarke came over and recorded his solo. Of course, the pipe band couldn’t be recorded there so they were recorded at the Campbell River Legion Hall. The video of the band playing was filmed at the Longhouse at Robert Ostler Park but the audio from what was a windy day wasn’t usable.
Neville is hopeful the pipe band’s participation will help give them some recognition after going through some downtime due to the pandemic.
The video has Gould and two Nevilles (two images superimposed) set across the bottom of the screen and images of past war scenes play in the background. At one point Clarke comes in playing the bagpipes solo superimposed on the background and eventually the pipe band joins in. It’s a stirring arrangement that bagpipes always provide played behind a poignant song with an eminently-singable chorus: “Well they fought, and they died, for the King and the men at their sides; Now they sleep, row on row, in Flanders.”
Neville hopes the video keeps the memory of our veterans’ sacrifice alive.
“Maybe some people will watch it and get some inspiration from this,” Neville said.