Mardi Gras Carnival Art / February 19, 2019 / Fran Petty
Meeting of the Courts Each year at the meeting of the courts there s a particular song that is played over and over (and over and over). The theme to Rex is a song called "If Ever I Cease To Love." After listening to the play by play by the on-air commentators and Mardi Gras Historians (like Mr. Mardi Gras Authur Hardy) " If Ever I Cease To Love" is considered to be THE pinnacle Mardi Gras song as well as the most traditional. Really guys? I ve never heard that song in my life. My curiosity was peaked and I went on a mission to find out everything I could about this ultimate Mardi Gras song. As it turns out "If Ever I Cease To Love" is steeped in tradition and remains probably the oldest Mardi Gras tunes out there.
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.
He served as recording producer for the popular Holiday Angels Working Undercover Christmas charity CD project from 2003-2007. As settlers from Europe travelled to the new world by the thousands traditions and customs came with them and became ingrained in the culture and history of a new country. One custom in particular flourished in the southern reaches of the burgeoning country Mardi Gras. As far back as the early 18th century Catholic European settlers were celebrating the same holidays that they had observed in their native countries. In 1699 a French explorer arrived at the Mississippi River not far from where present day New Orleans exists.