The ABCs – Ani DiFranco, Baby Einstein, and Coldplay

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Categories Development, Infants

We are music lovers and there is quite a range on my iPod, all carved up into little pouches of genré or moods otherwise known as Playlists. I have Easy, Dinner Party, Workout, Latin, Kid Play, Kid Sleep, All, Country, Meditation, Worship&Praise, Classical, and Rap. If I hit play and my iPod was connected to a power source, it would run for nearly 6 days without playing the same song twice.

We expose the twins to all types of music, because we expose ourselves to all types of music. Except organ. Which is why they cry and get scared when they sit in the sanctuary at church. Or maybe it’s the demons being exorcised.

Anyway, this whole post is really about nursery rhymes, see how it all fits? Because as far reaching as we think our musical repertoire is, we are pretty limited in acquisition and knowledge of the kid stuff.

A co-worker gave me a Nursery Rhyme Book (with CD!), and I’ve been trying to acclimate myself to some of these songs again. Because my childhood memories are buried somewhere in that ditch in the woods that my brother told me the werewolves lived in and would eat me alive after entering the window screens they’d tear through when my parents would cool the house with open windows and my mom couldn’t understand why I didn’t sleep well. Focus, focus, focus.

And after reading and listening for a bit, I am finding that the words to the nursery rhymes are not the words I thought they were (this happens to me with regular songs, too). Take the nursery rhyme “Where Is Thumbkin?”

“Where is Thumbkin, where is Thumbkin?
Here I am, here I am!
How are you this morning? Very well, I thank you.
Run away, run away.”

I always thought it was “How are you today sir? Very well, I thank you. Come and play, come and play.” Not to mention the fact that I never knew the song went through all the fingers, like Pointer, and Tall Man and Ring Man and Pinkie. See what I missed out on? What about those kids whose ring finger is taller than the middle finger?

In some instances, in moments of lullabalic desperation at bedtime, I just make my own lyrics up. With words like “lullabalic”. And “Hush, Little Baby”.

“And if that diamond ring turns brass,
Mama’s going to buy you a looking glass.

And if that looking glass gets broke,
Mama’s gonna buy you a billy goat.

And if that billy goat won’t pull,
Mama’s going to buy you a cart and bull.”

Whereas my version, in the throws of an overtired baby and thrush combo, goes like this:

“And if that diamond ring don’t shine,
Mama’s gonna buy you a five-and-dime.

And if that store just don’t go green,
Mama’s gonna file chapter thirteen.

And then we will reorganize
And we’ll reinvest in another prize.”

Etcetera. I can’t help it. I work in finance and the banking crisis and general state of the economy have been on my mind. But she went to sleep, so that’s what matters.

And I’m just really surprised by the wee bit sexist tone of some of them, too, now that I know the words.

Like this one:

“Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater,
Had a wife and couldn’t keep her,
Put her in a pumpkin shell,
And there he kept her, very well.”

Or this one:

“Arroz con leche! [Rice and milk!]
Me quiero casar [I want to get married]
Con una señorita [To a girl]
Que sepa bailar; [Who knows how to dance]

Que sepa coser, [Who knows how to sew,]
Que sepa planchar, [Who knows how to iron,]
Que sepa abrir la puerta [Who knows how to open the door]
Para ir a jugar.” [To go out and play.]


Or the hey-abuse-is-cute-if-you-have-a-good-melody! slanted ones like:

“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children she didn’t know what to do.
She gave them some broth without any bread.
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.”

CPS anyone? OK, so yeah, it’s supposedly about the British Empire trying to control it’s colonies blah blah blah. I think I’ll pass on singing this one. Unless it need be a warning song with a happy face about not sitting through church services quietly.

Nevertheless, I’m having fun trying to remember this stuff as we embark on nursery rhymes. Even if it does land me in therapy. Again. Or maybe we’ll just stick with sign language.

Rachel’s personal blog can be found at RaJenCreation.

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7 thoughts on “The ABCs – Ani DiFranco, Baby Einstein, and Coldplay”

  1. oh, I’m right there with you! And it’s totally “How are you today sir? Very well, I thank you” !! 😉

    I think it depends on who you ask. One of the (many) reasons I hated Barney when that purple dinosaur of hell came out (I have a much younger sister), was because he ruined all of the songs I knew by using slightly different words! My sister was learning all of the words wrong. I was incredibly mad. (And I was only 17…I’m sure I would be okay with it now…perhaps not. 😉 )

    Since having the twins, I’ve noticed that I could find 3 or 4 different versions of nursery rhymes/songs I knew from way back when and ONE of them has to be right…it just takes some looking :)

  2. Too funny. Yeah, it’s crazy when you start thinking about some of those lyrics! But I also find it amusing in my mom/baby classes when we sing songs I used to know with slightly updated PC wording. Notice no one sings “one little, two little, three little Indians” anymore…

  3. ani is so much better than all of that stuff. lots of old stories/songs really freak. me. out. i would say well, we all sung those songs and we turned out ok. or did we?

  4. My personal fave is:
    Ring around the rosy (bubonic plague rash)
    Pocket full of posies (flowery smell to kill germs)
    Ashes, ashes (cremation of dead bodies)
    We all fall down! (dead)

    Also I taught my boys this version of Baby BumbleBee only to have them learn a different version at day care and completely embarrass me:

    I’m bringing home my baby… ouch he stung me!
    I’m smashing up my baby… eww what a mess!
    I’m licking up my baby… I feel sick!
    I’m BARFING up my baby… all better!

    Yep, the barfing was a huge success at day care.

  5. I’m a music teacher by profession, and mom all the other hours of the day. One of the gaps I notice in my students are those nursery rhymes and songs that I thought were common-knowledge. So, I’ve taken it upon myself to re-introduce these “gems”. Although…that being said. Many of the classics need editing or updating in my opinion. Far too many “children songs” come from a grisly time or reflect values I do not care to promote. (“Ring Around the Rosie” – as Laura C. pointed out – and others) So when I come across a rhyme or song that is worth teaching, I do. The other more sexist, abusive, consumer-focused songs get set by the wayside. The way I figure it, some of those “classics” should stay in the soon-to-be-forgotten recesses of the brains of those older than 25.
    Sorry to hear about the lack of organ music fondness, though. Maybe a nice Bach organ cantata??

  6. LauraC~~That’s the same version of Baby BumbleBee I’ve taught my boys. Is there another?

    And you caught me with the Ani heading. My boys hear TONS of Ani DiFranco. Or at least tons of begins of her songs, until it gets to a swear word and I skip ahead to the next song :) But they’ve been known to sing along to some Fire Door with me!

  7. I definitely grew up with “how are you today, sir?”
    My guess is they changed it in the interest of being more PC/gender neutral.

    One of my favorite examples of weird nursery rhymes has always been “Rock-a-bye-baby” with the ending “and down will come baby, cradle and all!”

    And with the Bumble Bee song, the barfing up was the version I learned too, and I always considered it one of those playground songs that kids sing and adults don’t approve of, so imagine my suprise when my daughter’s preschool class performed it (minus the barfing) for their Mothers Day celebration. I think I sat through the first few verses with my jaw dropped! 😉

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