Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What I Sing to My Babies

I love to sing to my babies. Not just to lull them to sleep but also to entertain them. My kids love music as a result. I noticed a lot of the songs I sang to them were songs that were popular in my great grandparents' day. Growing up we watched a lot of Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, and Loony Tunes before the era of political correctness that so as a result we also learned the songs of that generation. So I could sing along with my own grandparents who also grew up with the songs of the early 20th century. At the turn of the century, most people didn't have record players or the radio. Yo bought sheet music and played the popular songs on your own piano or your own guitar. If that was too hard, you played the harmonica. Unfortunately, I cannot play any instruments. I grew up around an older generation where having a piano in the living room was pretty standard and almost everyone knew either how to play the piano or the guitar. People in the old days would gather in the living room or parlor, depending on the time or the social standing of the person, and play the newest music from sheet music and sing together. You see that when you watch old Three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy shorts. I also saw some of that when visiting older relatives. My mother used to play piano, my father the guitar, both grandmothers played the piano and my great grandmother played the mandolin. Music was an important part of our family. So when I am with my kids or in the car, I like to sing to them songs from the early twentieth century. Those songs have a broader appeal and are sung for fun, not to make a political or offensive statement. They are not just for the youth but can be enjoyed by the entire family. Unfortunately, our society does not value family fun but seeks to keep the youth rebellious and apart from the older generation. I like that I sing songs that bind us together as a family. Here are some of my favorites but definitely not a complete list!-
    This is "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine" written for the play The Trail of the Lonesome Pine back in 1913 by Ballard MacDonald, a Tin Pan Alley artist and Harry Carrol. The second song is "Shine On, Harvest Moon" credited to the vaudeville couple Nora Bayes and Jack Norwith back in 1908.
    Here Laurel and Hardy are singing "Emmet's Lullaby" written by Joesph Kline Emmet back in 1878.
    This is credited back to an old 1875 song called "The Spelling Bee", but made popular in 1938 by the Three Stooges and named "Swinging the Alphabet".
    "Hello, Ma Baby!" was a Tin Pan Alley song written in 1899 by Howard and Emerson. It was written to make fun of the speech of black people and called a "coon song'. (sorry, they weren't too sensitive about race back then.) The song was made popular by Michigan J. Frog in 1955. My brothers would recognize it more from Spaceballs.

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