Island man composes stirring tribute to veteran father and grandfathers

A Campbell River musician is doing his part to ensure the sacrifices of our WWII and early veterans are not forgotten.

Graham Neville paid tribute to his father, grandfather and all veterans in a YouTube video.

“I just wanted to write a song to help people remember because I have a feeling, right in the people I’m talking to, that people are starting to forget about Memorial Day and why we have Memorial Day,” Neville Say.

Neville, 62, is a retired RCMP member from a family with a strong military heritage. Both his grandfather and his father held positions.

“So I have a direct connection. I realize that my generation is now the last direct connection to those days because they’re all long gone – and we’ll be gone too soon,” Neville said. “So I wanted to write this song just to honor them, first of all, but basically to honor all the veterans who have served, even those who are still serving.”

This video is dedicated to his grandfather Charles Roland Neville (1891-1896; Boer War, 1899-1902; World War I, 1914-1918), grandfather Thomas Lindsay Hen Collins (Royal Navy, 1912-1947; World War I 1914-1918; WWII 1939-1945) and his father Russell Neville (Royal Canadian Artillery, World War II 1939-1945). Their names and service records are shown in the video along with their photos and medals.

Neville wrote and recorded the song with the help of his friend Dennean Gould and Pipe Major Kim Clarke and the Campbell River Legion Pipe Band.

“Of course, it’s like an old-fashioned song with pipes and everything in it,” he said. “Of course, the military would appreciate it.”

Neville was a former organ major with the RCMP Wind Band, so after writing the song, he knew he wanted bagpipes, but a full band, not just his own. So he contacted the Campbell River Regiment Pipe Band.

“They were really keen to do that and we had a lot of fun together,” Neville said. “So it must have turned out well.”

Neville no longer plays the pipe due to injury, which is why he turned to guitar. His YouTube channel with Gould contains rock music from the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s.

Neville said the Memorial Day song actually only took about 15-20 minutes to write.

“It’s one of those that really just fell off. The lyrics just fell out of my mouth. The piece is actually pretty simple, just a triad piece.”

He said the wind music he also wrote took longer.

Neville has a recording studio downstairs from his home, where all the music is composed and recorded. Pipe Major Clarke came over and recorded his solo. Of course, the pipe band couldn’t record there, so they recorded at Campbell River Regiment Hall. The video of the band playing was filmed at the Longhouse in Robert Ostler Park, but on windy days the audio was unavailable.

Neville hopes the band’s involvement will help them gain some recognition after some downtime due to the pandemic.

The video features Gould and two Nevilles (two images superimposed) at the bottom of the screen, with images of past war scenes playing in the background. At one point, Clark played a bagpipe solo superimposed on the background, and eventually the pipe band joined in. It’s a stirring arrangement, where the bagpipes are always played behind a poignant song, with a chorus perfectly suited to sing: “Well, they fought, and they died, for the king and those around them; Now they sleep in Flanders, row by row.”

Neville hopes the video will keep our memory of veterans’ sacrifice alive.

“Maybe some people will watch it and get some inspiration from it,” Neville said.

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Campbell River Remembrance Day

The Campbell River Legion Pipe Band participates in Graham Neville's tribute to the Veterans Day on YouTube.Youku screenshot

The Campbell River Legion Pipe Band participates in Graham Neville’s tribute to the Veterans Day on YouTube.Youku screenshot

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