The Seekers. The carnival is over

My taste in music has never changed over the years at all. I adored this song as a young teenager in Goldenbridge in the late sixties and beyond, and even listening to – what has now become a legendary folk-song – it still fails not to move me immensely. It’s kind of strange looking at the singers in action, as I would have mostly only remembered their songs from old vinyl records/cassettes and sleeve images of same. They look very conservative in their whole demeanour. The harmonies, various instruments and orchestra in background all lend so much to the musicality of this very soothing folk song. The very elegant classic style of attire of performers is also so becoming!

The Carnival Is Over: The Seekers.
#1 in Australia & UK in 1965.

           (Capo 2nd fret.)

#1.
G       C                G            G7
Say goodbye, my own true lover, as we sing a 
        C    C7
lover's song.
       F                  C
How it breaks my heart to leave you...
Am      F           G  G7
now the carnival is gone.

#2.
      C                 G      
High above, the dawn is waking, and my 
G7                C   C7
tears are falling rain.
        F           C     Am     F           C   C7
For the carnival is over..we may never meet again.

CHORUS:
C7     F    G            C
Like a drum my heart was beating,
Am       F    G            Em
and your kiss was sweet as wine.
        F    G           Em
But the joys of love are fleeting,
        F            Bb  G         
for Pierrot and Col..um..bine.

#3.
        C                G                  G7
Now the harbour light is calling..this will be 
             C   C7
our last goodbye.
           F           C       Am     F    
Though the carnival is over....I will love you,
G      C  C7
till I die.

CHORUS:
C7     F    G            C
Like a drum my heart was beating,
Am       F    G            Em
and your kiss was sweet as wine.
        F    G           Em
But the joys of love are fleeting,
        F            Bb  G         
for Pierrot and Col..um..bine.

#4.
        C                G                  G7
Now the harbour light is calling..this will be 
             C   C7
our last goodbye.
           F           C       Am     F    
Though the carnival is over....I will love you,
G      C  C7
till I die.

OUTRO:
           F           C
Though the carnival is over....
Am     F    G     G7      C
I will love you...till I  die.

Tom Springfield wrote this for the Seekers. He based the melody on the Russian folk song Stenka Razin (or Stenka Rasin). Stenka Razin was a Cossack rebel leader who led a major Cossack and peasant rebellion on Russia’s southeastern frontier in 1670-71. He has been celebrated in a number of songs. Pete Seeger in 1953 sang an English-language version of Stenka Razin, which may have been the version known by Tom Springfield.

Judith Durham: “That was a great song that still lives today. It is a perennial favourite and it is sung at weddings. We were very, very blessed to have met Tom Springfield as he never compromised the integrity of the group and he never got us to do things that we didn’t want to do.” (quote from 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh)
This was the Seekers best selling single in the UK Selling 1,400,000 It has become an Australian tradition for The Seekers to sing “The Carnival is Over” at the close of sporting events. Unfortunately they were unable to do so at the end of the closing ceremony for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, as Judith Durham had broken her hip and was not able to take part.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds covered this on their 1986 album Kicking Against The Pricks. (thanks, Edward Pearce – Ashford, Kent, England, for all above)
This song features the couplet “But the joys of love are fleeting/ For Pierrot and Columbine.” Pierrot and Columbine were the names of two stock characters in the old Italian pantomime-like theatre known as del’arte Pierrot was a sad clown in love with the beautiful Columbine who breaks his heart by leaving him for Harlequin.
The Carnival Is Over” is a Russian folk song (1883) with lyrics written by Tom Springfield in 1965 for the Australian group The Seekers, who customarily close their concerts with it. At its peak, the song was selling 93 000 copies per day and is No 30 in the chart of the biggest selling singles of all time in the United Kingdom, having sold in excess of a million copies in the UK alone.

H/t: Uploaded by  on Oct 28, 2006

From their farewell concert at the BBC in London July 7 1968. “The carnival is over” Not until 1993 did they get together again with Judith as a lead singer. They then more or less performed concerts together until 2004.But the years are moving on for all of us and they have retired for good now as a group after having their last tour summer of 2004. Their last ever concert was in Hong Kong October 8th 2004. Keith Potger, Judith Durham and Athol Guy still perform in Australia as solo artists.

But as they have said themselves:”Never say never”they are to tour in May 2011 with Andre Rieu in Australia.

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One thought on “The Seekers. The carnival is over

  1. I heard the Seekers last night in Melbourne, and I was terribly saddened at the reality that my generation has them as memories and beautiful music and the kids of today have duf-duf. What a tragedy.

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