Friday, August 21, 2009

folsom prison blues

Because music has always been important to me, I've been hoping the same would be true for my daughters. My father played ukulele and sang, and so did my mother. In high school I spent a lot of moody time out on the beach alone with my guitar (because, of course, no one understood me).

But about my daughters...

The first music I played for K was Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, one of my all-time favorite albums. This was when she was maybe a week or so old and lumped onto my lap while I worked at my computer. I'm not sure it made much of an impression. She's not, for example, begging to hear Idiot Wind with any regularity. (She did get to hear Neko Case sing Buckets of Rain in the pouring rain at a zoo concert, however!)

We sang to K regularly at bed time, and there was a period of over a year when every evening ended with Twinkle Twinkle. This stopped after she did a few swimming classes with M and they sang it while floating on their backs. I think maybe K associated the song with swimming and didn't want it for bedtime any longer because she didn't want to have to float on her back in her crib.

That was around Christmas, so we naturally started singing Jingle Bells to her as a substitute. And continued to do so for another 1 1/2 years. Which is not as odd to do in August as you might think, not if you've been doing it all spring and summer too. And when Christmas comes around again, like it tends to do (starting in August at CostCo), you're in season again.

I also used to play my guitar and ukulele for K at night, and while she seemed to like it ok, she never went crazy for it. She'd smile, put up with it, humor me. Or not. There's little as crushing as having a 1 1/2 yo shake her head and say, earnestly, "No daddy. No." Um.... ok, but I like singing and playing my guitar....

L on the other hand, has taken to music from the start. I don't know what music she first heard, but for the first 9 months or so of her cranky life, the only thing I could do to get her to calm down, especially at night, was to sing I Will to while holding her against my chest. (It's a beautiful song by Paul McCartney from the White Album and worth checking out). I can still sing that and get her to snuggle in and quiet down. We also did Sweet Baby James ("rockabye sweet L J") and You Can Close Your Eyes. But I Will was the go-to tune.

At bedtime we sing her Baa Baa Black Sheep and Jingle Bells (family tradition at this point), and she sings along, something K never did.

When I get my guitar, uke or banjo out, L comes running over to strum the strings. K will too, but it seems more in response to L's excitement/interest than due to intrinsic interest on her part. In short, L responds to music in ways that get my hopes up. Not that it really matters that K doesn't. It's just gravy that L does.

Current favorite tunes for K & L:

  • Folsom Prison Blues
  • Busted, the first 2 tracks from Johnny Cash's Live at Folsom Prison album
  • Jackson (w/ June Carter) is a growing favorite, also from Live at Folsom Prison
  • And John Henry, because it sounds like another train song ("that train song daddy?") -- somehow songs being about trains is important to K
  • No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed (L's request, usually)
  • La la la (Bare Naked Ladies)
  • "airplane song," a french tune I don't know the name of that K loves and associates with airplanes though I have no freakin' idea why

Past popular (and still sometimes requested):
  • Yellow Submarine (I've been a success as a parent -- my girls like the Beatles. But can't we branch out a little bit.... Rev0lution? Drive My Car? Yer Blues??)
  • I'm Going Riding in a Car (Elizabeth Mitchell's version)
  • others I'm forgetting at this point.

Because music has been so very important for me, I love that at least one of the girls seems to be taking to it too. Time will tell, I suppose. Until then, we're stuck in Folsom Prison with Johnny, June and the band.

K: "Play that train song again! 'Coming round the bend'"
L: "Comin' round bend!!" "Baby needth thoose!" "Buthted!!"

Things could be much worse. It could be Raffi.

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