“REMEMBERING CLARENCE” – By Des Kelly
He was certainly one of the very best Singer/ Songwriters that Sri Lanka was proud to call their own.
Clarence Wijewardena wrote many songs, most of them, at the request of friends who, in turn, had friends wishing to record a “Clarence-song”.
This writer was already in Australia, when Clarence wrote a song entitled “Dilhani”, dedicated to the baby- daughter of yet another friend, no doubt. It wasn’t known to many folk that Clarence wrote his song-lyrics in a simple exercise book, that most Sri Lankans would remember as a relic of their School days. He wrote many songs, so there were many exercise books, and in addition, at the beginning of each song, being a Catholic, he would also write a special little prayer, asking God to help him complete the song. This was the simple God-fearing guy that I consider myself to be very unlucky, not to have met personally.
However, another famous female Singer by the name of Indrani Perera, with a band named the “Moonstones” had recorded “Dilhani” which I first heard in Melbourne in early 1963. It was a beautiful version of this great song which reminded me very much, of the Country I had just migrated from and made me quite emotional just listening to it.
I decided to use the beautiful music that Clarence had written, compose my own English lyrics and called the song ” My lovely Island Home” Before I recorded it, I wrote to Clarence Wijewardena and asked for his written permission to use his music, and was very happy when he wrote back, giving his permission & so I recorded my version, always giving him due credit for his music.
Clarence Wijewardena has since passed on, but his beautiful music will live on, forever, and my only regret is that I never did get the chance to meet him and shake his hand, congratulating him on so many songs that he had written. Unfortunately, all the exercise books containing his lyrics got burned in a house fire, but the memories and melodies linger on, Clarence. God bless you, my friend, and may you rest in peace with the same God whose help you called on, so often.