Saturday, May 3, 2008

Rock-a-bye Baby

So it turns out that I don't know very many lullabyes.

Really the only one I know is the one about the baby in the tree-top, which, by the way, if you pay attention to the words, is a little disturbing and kind of Steven King-esque. "When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, and down will come baby. . ." I have to wonder, is that supposed to be a threat? Are you telling the kid that she better shut up and hold still or else she might rock the cradle to much? Or is it just a comment on the inevitability of death? After all, it's not the baby that makes the cradle rock, it's just something that happens "when the wind blows." That's so ominous and kind of creepy. And this is how we put our kids to bed? And what's the kid doing in the top of a tree in the first place?

Anyway, the unsatisfying philosophy of the song about the baby in the treetop combines with sheer boredom and makes me want to seek out new ones. Since I don't really know many, I've had to improvise and use other songs I know, which has been interesting.

It turns out the Beatles wrote some good lullabyes. The one that seems to work the best is "Mother Nature's Son." "Here comes the Sun" is pretty good too, but it seems weird too sing it at night. "Rocky Racoon" isn't too bad, but it's easy to get into it and sing it too loud. Even more surprising is that Weezer's "My name is Jonas" gets the baby to quite down pretty really well. I once tried "Only in Dreams" but there's too many guitar parts that don't translate to well into a vocal solo.

There are a few They Might be Giants tunes that work well, also (you knew it was coming). She really seems to like "Mink Car." "Another First Kiss" isn't too bad either. Of course, TMBG has also written a few songs intended as lullabyes on their children's album, "No!". "Sleepwalkers" and "Lazyhead and Sleepybones" are good ones, but "Bed Bed Bed" doesn't work so well. Again, too many instrumentals, and too raucous.

When it comes to church music, "I am a child of God" is of course an old standby. But my favorite is "Adam-ondi-Ahman." "O Savior, thou who wearest a crown" is another really good one.


amanda said...

While babysitting, I have found some success in rocking babys to sleep while singing "Lullaby in Ragtime" from the movie The Five Pennies. You might try that? I'm still singin' solo for now, but it's a great one to sing as a duet...which reminds me of that lullaby all the guys in Full House sing to Michelle, or the twins, or some child on the show.

ke said...

Paul Simon is a great lullaby writer. Negociations and Love Songs, aside from the obvious St. Judy' Comet is full of softly singable tunes. :)

The Shark said...

I've also done the "Lullaby in Ragtime" song, and it works beautifully. Inevitably I turn to Frank Sinatra in the end. "You're Nobody 'til Somebody Loves You" is a great one. "The Way You Look Tonight" is also good.

Just don't forget to sing the instrumental parts!

Cabeza said...

Ooo. I'm going to have to agree whole-heartedly with the Paul Simon comment. "Hearts and Bones," man.

Billy Joel's "Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel)" is a good little lullabye. And also Ben Folds' "Lullabye." Man, I guess when you write a lullabye, you don't have to be creative when you name it.

Try "Malted Milk" from Clapton's Unplugged album. I find it soothing when I'm falling asleep.

apyknowzitall said...

I agree with Cabeza, the Billy Joel one and Claptons malted milk is good.

I love hymns for lullabies. My kids all seemed to have their own hymn I'd sing to them, Come Come Ye Saints, Come Ye Children of the Lord, How Firm a Foundation... come to think of it, my four month old doesn't have one yet. Odd...