News » Blake Pontchartrain:

New Orleans Trivia

Blakeview: 'If Ever I Cease To Love'

Rex adopted the song as its anthem in 1872

by

comment

We conclude our look at the stories behind some Mardi Gras music by revisiting the history of Carnival's anthem, "If Ever I Cease to Love." Rex adopted it as the krewe's anthem when it first paraded in 1872. The song was written by George Leybourne and published in London in 1867. In 1871, British burlesque singer Lydia Thompson adapted the song for her show, Bluebeard, which brought the song to the U.S. She was appearing in New Orleans at the time of the first Rex parade on Feb. 13, 1872. The other celebrity in town that day was Russia's Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich (pictured), who had seen Thompson perform the song during his American tour and became enamored of the song and the singer. Since the first Rex parade was organized partly to honor the Grand Duke's visit, bands were requested to play the song during the parade. Its nonsense lyrics speak of cows laying eggs and fish getting legs "if ever I cease to love." In honor of the Grand Duke, one line was changed to "May the Grand Duke Alexis / ride a buffalo in Texas / if ever I cease to love."

Add a comment