Total Pageviews

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Musical Mom Memory

Click here: Baby Mine

My mom was many things, some of them pretty damn crazy.  And some not very nice. However....

One of her best traits was she was a snuggler.  She loved to snuggle.  From the time I could remember, she would sit on a rocking chair, hold me on her lap and sing to me.  She sang mostly "Winken, Blinken and Nod" by Eugene Field using a melody I still remember but I've almost never, ever heard it sung that way.

"Now, Winken and Blinken are two little eyes
And Nod is a little head
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
is a wee one's trundle bed...."

I searched YouTube and other sources and cannot find the melody Mom sang.  i guess I'll have to record it myself so there is some kind of record of it.  I wonder if she heard it somewhere, maybe from her mother, as the poem is from the 19th century.  Of course, that being what I heard, that is my favorite version. Naturally.  She also would sing "Tender Shepherd" from Peter Pan and Brahm's Lullaby and other soft, sleepy songs.

It was very soothing, and honestly I'm not sure you ever outgrow it. I recall being in my twenties, absolutely crushed and shattered about something or someone.  She sat in the rocking chair in her bedroom and patted her lap.

"Aw,geez, come on, Ma, I'm going the break the damn chair or you if I sit there, for Christ's sake!"

"Sit down!" ordered my mother.  I gingerly sat on my mother's lap, now taller than her by six inches and she rocked me and sang "Baby Mine" from DUMBO.  Of course, I cried.  She had a beautiful voice, higher and purer than mine. It was very consoling, even at my advanced age, to be rocked and sung to.

".....if they knew sweet little you
They'd end up loving you too...."

How could we not be musical (or at least appreciative of it) surrounded as we were with music?  Mom always sang and we had music parties.  Dad sang as well and they loved hanging around the piano while Bob Schwartz (a friend of theirs) who played by ear hammered out tunes on the Steinway and everyone sang.  My cousins and I sang while we did dishes after a family party.

"Inchworm, inchworm...measuring the marigold...."

Nowadays we all listen to music.  Heck, practically everyone, from 8 to 80, has an iPod or some kind of MP3 player.  I think my Mom would have LOVED the capacity of listening to and obtaining music that the Internet can provide.  I have learned so much musically from being connected.

What Mom's generation possessed, I think, was more musical ability.  From recollections of hers, everyone she knew at least SANG if not played one or multiple instruments.  My mother-in-law says the same thing.  People went out, went dancing, went to people's houses and listened to the radio or sang and danced.  Someone in their group could read music and bang it out on the piano.  They didn't have TV or computers. Almost all men danced. What a concept! I'm kind of sorry I never met Marty's dad as it seems his musical tastes ran the gamut from Jeannette MacDonald to Beethoven to "Wooly Bully!" I'm still trying to wrap my head around this very mechanical man banging away at a carburetor to "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life."

 Nowadays, it seems we listen but we don't participate.  We're not as musically involved as our parents were! Some might put on a CD of baby songs, lullabies but I kind of wonder how many parents read a book and then a tuck-in with a a lullaby.  I know Marty read and sang to Megan.  He still can recite "Green Eggs and Ham" totally from memory....very impressive!  I know my sister rocked and sang to my niece ("Goodnight Moon!").  I hope my niece passing it along!

One of my crystalline teenage memories is a lazy August evening, walking through Oak Bluffs, a historic town on Martha's Vineyard.  There was a large band stand, enough to sit about a hundred people.  They handed you a piece of paper with song lyrics and had a good old fashioned sing-a-long.  All ages sang.  Even little kids could sing some of the songs. It was like a scene from an old movie! Where the hell can you go to do that nowadays?  When I do a gig and get the audience to sing along with me, even if they can't remember all the words, I know it's a memory for them that we are sharing! It takes us all back.

When i hear "Baby Mine" and the message that it shares, I think of the best of my mother, the best of our parents.  And yes, it makes me wish for a soft place to land, if only for a moment and be cherished, held, rocked and sung to.


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Mia. I *loved* all those holidays where we sang show tunes while doing the dishes. It made the clean up (and boy, was there a lot of clean up!) go by so quickly. Have you seen Pirate Radio? Great film, and reminded me of how cool it was that we all listened to the SAME music. It was communal. Now, every individual has his/her own playlist. It's not necessarily bad, but I wish we came together to enjoy music more often.

  2. I have to scope that out, thank you!! I love being with you and singing!