Mardi Gras Carnival Art / February 20, 2019 / Blanche Durham
So here we are a bunch of hung-over exhausted sunburned Popeyes-eatin twenty somethings on Mardi Gras night...without a clue that this song (played over and over at the Rex Ball) is quite literally a key link to the birth of modern Carnival. If I Ever Cease to Listen to Mardi Gras Music You won t find the tune on many Mardi Gras compilation CDs. The song is practically buried under the classic Carnival R&B hits by guys like the Nevilles and even Oliver "Who Shot The LaLa" Morgan (yes that s the name on his birth certificate). There are several great versions of "If Ever I Cease To Love" on iTunes ready for download.
After the founding of the Mystic Krewe of Comus in 1857 (and their nighttime torch-lit parade) the Krewe Of Rex established several key factors that would become staples for the entire Carnival tradition in 1872: the Mardi Gras flag the official colors of purple green and gold and the "royal anthem" of a song titled "If Ever I Cease To Love." In classic New Orleans style the song comes from a burlesque show entitled "Blue Beard" and features some of the craziest lyrics this side of a Christina Aguilera National Anthem performance: "If Ever I Cease To Love If Ever I Cease To Love/May cows lay eggs and fish grow legs If Ever I Cease To Love." Our very own Edward Branley recently told the fascinating story of how these insane lyrics have anything to do with Mardi Gras.
Behind the band come six "strong men" from the village often the tradition of carrying the torch or flambeaux is passed from father to son as the elder gets on in years. They sometimes have a helper walking beside them just in case. It s a hard and difficult job. The torches are similar in length to a caber and have been soaked for many months to ensure they stay alight. The flambeaux are then followed by many floats in which the local inhabitants deck both the float and themselves out in a variety of colours and costumes. Many are topical political statements. The more whisky that s handed around the waiting crowd the funnier they seem.