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Wonderful Town, Trail BC

Updated: Dec 27, 2018

In 1962-63, the American jingle house of Richard H. Ullman Associates produced a series of cheesy but oh-so-catchy songs to promote radio and television stations and the towns they served. They presumably aired on those stations and were also issued as 45 rpm singles. The music was virtually identical; only the lyrics were tailored to fit the town.

Some were embraced as civic anthems (notably in Regina) but in the pre-Internet world, people probably had no idea that their song was actually a generic track with fill-in-the-blank parts. (I wonder about the choir who cranked these things out, singing the same tune over and over with slightly modified lyrics.)

Lucky for us, CJAT Trail was one of the stations that bought the package. According to the foreword of John D’Arcangelo’s book A Trail to Remember, Rod Saxon wrote the local lyrics. I’ve posted the audio below along with the lyrics, so you can sing along.

Wonderful town, wonderful people

Places to go

Things to see

My love is Trail, BC

That’s my wonderful town

Beautiful homes, schools, and churches

Entertainment, places to shop

My heart’s in Trail, BC

That’s my wonderful town

Trail is the centre of the fabulous Kootenays

Giant of commerce and industry

Trail is the Silver City

And of course you will listen to

Radio CJAT

Trail is great to live in and work in

A friendly and happy place to be

My love is Trail BC

That’s my wonderful town

Trail is the hometown of the Smokies

And famous western hospitality

There’s Italian cuisine

And always on the scene

Trail BC has CJAT

You can ride Red Mountain slopes

Or drive the Skyway

View the valleys and the greenery

Along the lakes for a sail

Or on the Dewdney Trail

You can listen to CJAT

Along the Boundary to Grand Forks, to Creston Valley

In Rossland, Fruitvale, and Castlegar

Salmoites, Nelsonites, they all agree

They like radio CJAT

My heart’s in Trail BC

That’s my wonderful town

I’m probably biased from hearing this version first, but I think it hangs together better than some of the others. It’s easier to rhyme “Trail BC” with “things to see,” “place to be,” “all agree,” and “CJAT” than it is Hamilton or New Orleans.

The song was played on CBC Radio at least a couple of times: in the mid-1990s on Nightlines by Nardwuar the Human Serviette and in 2000 on Radiosonic. KBS aired a modified version for Trail’s centennial in 2001.

Apparently early 1980s Calgary punk band Hot Nasties — whose members included future Liberal strategist and commentator Warren Kinsella — put out a seven-inch EP called Invasion of the Tribbles that was described as having a “special end track which is a tourist jingle for Trail, BC.” That could only be one thing, but I have listened to it online and failed to hear it.

The flip side of the Wonderful Town record was entitled “Your Invitation to Trail, BC,” in which a Guy With a Deep Voice lists the city’s many virtues. Here it is.

I have also combed the furthest reaches of the Internet for other versions of the song (some of which came with picture sleeves). At least 22 were recorded for stations in Canada, the United States, and Australia. Thirteen are available online. Some flip sides had something called Voice of the City, some had an instrumental version of Wonderful Town, some had the same song on both sides, and some were single-sided.

7HO Hobart, Australia

WLTN Littleton, New Hampshire

WKOP Binghamton, NY

WLBR Lebanon, PA

CHNS Halifax/Dartmouth

Not wonderful town, but wonderful cities!

WHDH Boston (Oct 1962)

CKCK-TV Regina (1964)

Lyrics by Carol Gay Bell

CHSJ St. John, N.B.

Improbably, “Canada's oldest incorporated city” is one of the lyrics.

CKOC Hamilton

WVMT Burlington, Vermont

CKPC Brantford, Ont.

With flip side Voice of the City

Hear it here:

WSHO New Orleans

This one has a faster tempo. Hear it here:

This one was also for sale on eBay this year, but failed to sell for $1.

WEMP Milwaukee

CKLC Kingston, Ont.

I can’t find the audio for this one online, but it’s for sale on eBay with a picture sleeve. It’s titled A Tribute to Kingston and credited to Bermingham and French, “featuring the Richard H. Ullman Inc. Orchestra and Choir” (or chorus, on the vinyl itself).

Also reported, but no audio online:

• WHIZ Zanesville, Ohio (1962)

• WKZO Kalamazoo, Mich.

• WCAR Detroit

• WSUN St. Petersburg, Fla. (1962)

• KIOA Des Moines, Iowa

• Montreal (1963)

• Mobile, Ala.

• Melbourne, Australia (1963)

Billboard of Feb. 19, 1949 referred to Richard H. Ullman Inc. as a Buffalo agency and said that its namesake president had 18 years experience as an advertising rep at WGR and WKBW, both Buffalo stations.

Richard H. Ullman, Inc., boasts providing the industry’s most complete service to stations and advertisers. Their “Ullmanac” of sound numbers 40 different packages ranging in price — according to type and market size — from $360 to $31,000.
The Ullman station services are categorized under four main packages: “Big Sound,” “Dimensional,” “Formatic,” and “SOP!” Offered within these four groups are production and programming aids such as … City Songs, a salute to the station’s city or town with a specially written song, words and music included. Also made available is printed sheet music of the city song with the station’s call letters emblazoned thereon along with a 45 record — featuring an instrumental and vocal version — in a color sleeve with the lyrics printed on the back.

While the records have survived, I’ve never seen an example of the sheet music.

According to Dutch jingle collector Albert Pleijsier, the songs were produced by Tom Merriman, founder of FTM Productions in Dallas and a composer for Richard Ullman in the early 1960s. Below is an audio ad for the Wonderful Town package.

Updated on Dec. 27, 2018 to add the ad heard above.

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I played this with my husband Phillip in the room, and he recognized it right away! Turns out that in 1968 at UVic he was dorm-mates with John D’Arcangelo, who had a copy of the 45 that he played, being such an enthusiastic booster of his home town. All the words came right back to Phillip. What a hoot!

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