Family Friday: Hello, January; Goodbye, Christmas Carols

14881390-old-turntable-with-vinyl-record-having-blank-label            I grew up with music all around me. My official job when I was seven years old was the record flipper. Whenever the record finished with Side A, my job was to flip it over to Side B and be careful with the needle not to scratch the record. My parents loved music. My mom loved what would be termed as pop or light adult contemporary. When it was her turn to choose the record, it would be Roberta Flack or Barbra Streisand or the Beatles. My dad liked rock and roll. When it was his turn to choose, the songs would be from The Eagles, The Rolling Stones or Cream. The first song I ever sang was Moonshadow by Cat Stevens. I remember vividly one Christmas when I was about seven asking for the 45s of We Don’t Need No Education and The Rose. My parents gave me full albums Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Bette Midler’s The Rose. At an early age, I was exposed to a lot of different rock songs and ballads and knew the words to quite a few songs other than Christmas carols. I always thought that if I had kids, I’d play a lot of music for them. But even though I have iPod playlists, the Pandora app, and tons of CDs, I haven’t surrounded them with as much music as there was in the house when I grew up. Today Cupcake started to sing Jingle Bells and asked me if she was singing it correctly. I told her that now it is January, maybe we should sing some other songs. She looked up at me with her big blue eyes and asked me to teach her a song. While she knows the childhood standards of Twinkle, Twinkle and Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes, I wanted something a little more advanced for her age. Goodbye, Christmas Carols. But what song should I teach her?

Songs started flooding my mind. I listen to a lot of alternative music. From classic alternative bands like REM and U2 to the modern sounds of Mumford and Sons, this is usually the type of music I turn on first. I took a deep breath and started going through my catalog of songs. Sunday, Bloody Sunday, while a great song that I love, might not be the best song to teach a five-year-old. I dismissed that one. Little Lion Man, a newer song that I also love, might not be the right fit. Images of my getting a phone call from the preschool director when Cupcake sang the song to her teachers floated through my head. I dismissed that one. It’s The End of the World As We Know It? The Freshman? Time to think outside the alternative genre.

I started to think about songs from the record player. The Beatles’ Yesterday. I know the lyrics to that one. A little sad for my Cupcake who is a sprite at heart. So I traveled a little further back in the annals of music. I smiled and remembered the times my Gram would pull out copies of sheet music to sing to my first cousin and myself. She would sing Swingin’ on a Star and Oh, Yes, We Have No Bananas. I sang the refrain of Swingin’ on a Star to Cupcake followed by Accentuate the Positive. Then I told her about the Bananas song. She didn’t quite understand the title and told me we don’t have any bananas because she and Chunk ate the remaining two last night. We headed over to the laptop and I found the lyrics and sang them to her.

After that, I turned on the Bing Crosby radio station on Pandora and she listened to San Fernando Valley and proclaimed it just “all right.” When Pandora switched to Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon, Chunk asked if he could play a game on my iPad which made me remember why I don’t play Pandora for them more often (inevitably, one child always asks to play a game on my iPad if I turn on music). Then Cupcake asked if I would teach her more songs this afternoon.

While I was getting them ready for their dentist’s appointment, I started thinking of more songs to sing. Of course, Disney songs came to mind this time, but I think I’ll try to think of more standards. I wonder what Cupcake will think of Blueberry Hill and What a Wonderful World (IMHO, one of the few songs ever written which gets the rating of perfect). It’s time to start playing more music in our house. There are too many wonderful songs waiting out there to be heard and sung.

When no one’s around and you sing to yourself, what songs are your favorite and most likely to come out of your mouth? If you have children, what songs have you taught them?

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