Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (B.C. government photo)

Order of Canada Vancouver Island musician pens ‘The Ballad of Bonnie Henry’

Qualicum Beach lawyer and saxophonist Phil Dwyer notes health officer has become a ‘folk hero’

Phil Dwyer, a Juno Award-winning jazz musician from Qualicum Beach, got up on Monday morning in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and wrote a folk song for B.C.’s provincial health officer.

“I woke up this morning and I just had a feeling it was something I wanted to do, to put some of my thoughts down on paper,” he said.

Dwyer said he’d been thinking about Dr. Bonnie Henry and how she’s become a “folk hero.”

“To come out day after day and be dealing with such weighty subject matter, I can’t imagine what it’s like behind the scenes for someone like that,” he said.

Dwyer, a recipient of the Order of Canada for his contributions to Canada’s music scene, performed a Facebook live concert at the Old School House Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach on March 29, where he and wife Theresa Whitley are the musical directors. During the show, he dedicated ‘Ain’t Misbehavin,’ a jazz song written in the 1920s, to Dr. Henry.

“One of the lines in the song is, ‘I’m home about eight, just me and my radio,’ and I’m a real radio person, so I haven’t been watching any of the updates, but I listen to them on CBC,” he said. “And I was surprised at how when I was just announcing the song, and I’d kind of done it with a little bit of tongue in cheek, I found myself getting pretty emotional thinking about it, about the job that she’s been doing.”

READ MORE: COVID-19 precautions ‘not optional,’ B.C.’s Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

READ MORE: Dynamic duo bring decades of musical expertise to Qualicum Beach

The morning after the concert, Dwyer got up and wrote the song.

“I read it to [his wife] and got to the end and I was almost in tears and I thought, ‘wow, this whole thing is really having an effect that we’re not really aware of,’” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s going to be Dr.Bonnie Henry that people remember from this.”

Here’s the lyrics to the song that Dwyer posted on twitter:

She comes on the radio, just around 3

with the public health news for the folks of BC

and to talk of a crisis, of a scope yet unseen

with an ungainly moniker, Covid-19

From the start, at the top of her list of demands,

was we lather with soap and please wash off our hands,

and as things took a turn for the worse day by day,

that we keep friends and neighbours a good six feet away

She’s had lots of help in her search for a fix,

not the least of whom is Mr. Adrian Dix,

in the eyes of the public though, she’s been the one

that has been with us since this whole thing has begun,

As nurses and doctors proceed with their tasks,

and pray for enough ventilators and masks,

she asks us to all help and flatten the curve,

and that from her health policy we do not swerve,

If we all stick together and see this thing through

we can show what a civil society can do

when it’s faced with a threat that first seemed unreal

but that now, it is obvious, is the real deal

So please follow the guidelines that she has laid out

it is going to be worth it, of that there’s no doubt

and if you turn on your radio, just around 3

the voice that you hear is of Bonnie Henry

cloe.logan@pqbnews.com

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