Private Riley is an award-winning music video about the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry that I wrote and produced at The Hamilton Spectator in 2012 about the storied local regiment in Hamilton that was commemorating its 150th anniversary. The RHLI is known for the horrific losses it suffered at Dieppe in the Second World War with 200 soldiers being killed. Riley is the nickname RHLI soldiers use to call themselves. The Private Riley in the song is not an actual person but an embodiment of the regiment. The RHLI military band, under the direction of Major Michael Rehill perform in the video. The song was featured on CBC’s As it Happens, and I performed the song with the band and at gala in Nov. 2012.
My name is Private Riley I come from Hamilton
I needed some extra shillings so I joined the battalion
They shipped me on a cattle car with a battered musket gun
We made a stand at Ridgeway against the bloody Fenians
I’m a soldier, I’m a soldier, with my pack and uniform
when they called I was ready always ready in peace and war
My name is Private Riley through Flanders and the Somme
Crawled through clouds of chlorine gas along the Western front
We waited cold and shivering for the rising of the sun
We took the Ridge at Vimy, had the Germans on the run.
My name is Private Riley on the beaches of Dieppe
We waded through the water with our guns above our heads
Gerry sat and picked us off in a hail of screaming lead
We bravely charged forward as the water all turned red.
My name is Private Riley deployed in Kandahar
I watch for suicide bombers, forever I’m on guard
And sometimes I do wonder have I really come that far
From the scared kid with the musket riding in a cattle car.
Stoney Creek is a music video I wrote and produced in the spring of 2013 for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Stoney Creek in June of that year. In addition to the video produced at The Hamilton Spectator, I performed the song live on CHCH television and at a City of Hamilton War of 1812 commemorative festival.
Click for additional material:
News clipping and lyrics
Below is a cartoon By Graeme MacKay of The Hamilton Spectator making light of the hundreds of people who re-enact the Battle of Stoney Creek each year and how the 200th anniversary in 2012 brought out even more people than normal. Check out the guy with the guitar in the tent. That’s me.
While visiting Charlottetown PEI last summer we pulled into a gas station to find gas prices had spiked six cents a litre overnight. A CBC camera guy was interviewing people at the pumps. I reached in the back seat for my travel ukulele, called the guy over, and wrote this song on the spot. It ended up being carried on CBC nationally. Click here for the link.