Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sing, Sing a Song

I've always been surrounded by music. I could sing as soon as I could talk, maybe sooner. I have in my head a repertoire of music ranging from high opera (believe me, you don't want to hear me sing that) to the lowest of doggerel (come to think of it, you probably don't want to hear me sing that, either). I have so much of it in my head that I don't even know what's in there. Every now and then I break into some random ditty and then think, hm, didn't know I knew that song. And over the past few months since Ryan's been on the scene, my brain has dredged up more silly children's songs than I ever knew that I knew.

There are, of course, the classic lullabies: Hushabye Baby, All the Pretty Little Horses, Hush Little Baby (although I'm still not sure whether the looking glass is "brass" or "crass", not that either one makes an awful lot of sense). There are a few less well-known lullabies that require me to make up a few missing lyrics, like All Through the Night: "Sleep my child and peace attend thee, all through the night. Guardian angels God shall send thee, all through the night. Something something something something, God to earth is now descending. Childhood's dreams are never-ending, all through the night." I know the first two lines are right, I haven't the faintest idea what the middle part is, and I made up the last line just so it rhymes at the end. So far, Ryan hasn't seemed to mind my edits.

A much more fun category is all those repeated, building verse-on-verse songs, like There's a Hole in My Bucket, There's a Hole at the Bottom of the Sea, There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Spider (Ryan's favorite, mostly because of the "that wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her" part), and One Elephant Went Out to Play. The latter is especially useful because there's no limit to the number of verses you can sing. It's like 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, only in reverse and somewhat less annoying. As long as you can count, you can keep adding elephants. My record so far is about twenty, but I can picture going up to at least 50 in the future.

Then we have the plain old silly songs, like Hickory Dickory Dock, Chim-Chiminny, and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. The nice thing about most of those is they're so nonsensical that no-one even notices if you make up some words because you can't remember the real ones, or create a few extra verses on the fly. Seriously, if someone doesn't balk at the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, are they really going to question your lyrics?

All the songs I've mentioned so far are songs that I learned and loved as a child. But I have a confession: I have another whole stash of children's songs that I picked up in my adulthood, not by babysitting, but by the guilty pleasure of having listened to a children's radio program called the Playground for the past few years. It features wonderful songs like I Am a Pizza, What Kind of Cat Are You?, and the Day the Moose Got Loose. (And less wonderful ones like the Hamster Dance and the incredibly annoying Pokemon theme song, but we'll ignore those for now.) Kids today have the benefit of not only classic children's performers like Raffi, Wayne from Maine, Laurie Berkner, the Wiggles, and Lois, Bram and Sharon, but many performers who don't sing specifically for little ones but whose music is endlessly entertaining for them anyway, like Weird Al Yankovic and his classic song, The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota. And endless a cappella groups with unforgettable hits like Liposuction and My Underwear Kept Ridin' Up My Rear (I don't plan on introducing that one to Ryan any time soon, but I'm sure he'll discover it somehow anyway). If you're creative and keep your ears open, there are endless songs all around that are a delight to sing to a child.

And speaking of singing to a child, I'd better wrap this up. There's a certain young man upstairs who's looking forward to hearing about a little duck with a feather on his back.

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