lullaby the baby… a reprise…

My baby is growing up! She’s walking now, and talking wordlessly, in such conversational tones, that I’m sure SHE thinks she’s saying something. It’s just us crazy big people that don’t understand. But big as she’s getting, she still needs a nap, even they aren’t as long as they used to be. And so, unless she’s wiped out with tiredness, and falls right to sleep (this occurs rarely), she still goes to sleep more quickly if I sing her a few lullabies.

My lullaby fallbacks are splendid (see original post), but I have to keep some variety going, so I don’t grow tired of any  of my songs. Fortunately, I know such a wide variety that this should never occur. Where to start?

As I’ve said before, I don’t always stick with Broadway musicals. Among many other music artists, I grew up listening to James Galway, the famous Irish flute player. We had a cassette tape of his, where he played everything from Henry Mancini numbers (The Pink Panther, Baby Elephant Walk, Love Theme from The Thornbirds), to The Flight of the Bumblebee. And, of course, Annie’s Song. I was well into my twenties before I even realized that Annie’s Song had words to it. Or that Mancini hadn’t written it. Not sure how that happened, considering my cousins had known all the words since they were kids. I learned all the words, shortly before my cousin walked down to the aisle to them (“Come let me love you, let me give my life to you… let me drown in your laughter, let me die in your arms. Let me lay down beside you, let me always be with you…”).

And while we’re on folk music (John Denver, remember?), a couple of my other non-musical lullabies come from Peter, Paul, and Mary. Ok, I know that John Denver actually wrote “Leaving on a Jet Plane”, but it’s Peter, Paul, and Mary’s version that I grew up on. I don’t sing this one to the baby quite as often as the others… I tend to sing her “Five Hundred Miles”, more often. Well, it depends on the day. But I should give an honorable mention to both “Stewball” and “Puff the Magic Dragon”, which I do NOT sing as lullabies. But they’re my go-to songs for playing for the kids on my mp3 player, singing to the baby while we dance, or distracting her when I’m changing her diaper. No joke. I’m pretty sure she’ll be able to sing “Stewball” all by herself, shortly after she begins to talk.

Musicals… have you been wondering when I’d get back to them? You shouldn’t have worried. These songs are very close to my heart, so they’re never far away from either being sung or being talked about. You see, my grandpa loved to sing, and he had a beautiful voice. I think his voice was something like Gordon MacRae’s, but maybe I’m just prejudiced. Nevertheless, we do know that he starred in a local production of The Student Prince, possibly even before he was married. I’m not sure. But you’ve gotta have a VOICE to handle The Student Prince. No regular Joe Schmoe could sing “Serenade (Overhead the Moon is Beaming)”, without getting booed off the stage.

Anyway, Grandpa loved to sing, and he loved good music. So, he raised his children to love to sing, and also to appreciate good music. I’ll admit, not all of the grandkids took to musicals and the occasional opera , but most of us like a goodly few of them. Actually, I like very few entire operas, but I love La Bohème, and listen to many individual opera stars… Three Tenors, anyone? Andrea Bocelli? But I can never diss operas, completely, because I like so many songs from each of them. And if you’re part of our family, you can’t ignore what James Funk loved.

In my case, that means reminding myself that he loved the song “Danny Boy”. For years, I’d hated that song (fully knowing he named one of my uncles Daniel, because of it), but I finally discovered that I like it when a guy sings it. I must’ve heard Grandpa sing it, when I was little. But whenever a girl sings it, you might as well go scratch a chalkboard, that’s what it sounds like to me.

And as for musicals, some of us cousins listen to them all the time, and even the ones that don’t, they can probably sing all the lyrics to a few, at the drop of a hat. A few of us are still joking about recording a Funk & Dinger version of Oklahoma!. We could, you know. We’ve got some good singers, and several of us know ALL the words.

Anyone for “Something Wonderful”, from The King and I? This is probably my favorite song from this musical, though I do love me some “Hello, Young Lovers”. Oh, and “Getting to Know You” is good for the purpose, as well. They don’t really sound like lullaby material, do they? But they are, oh, they are. And if you’ve never seen The King and I movie, starring Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner, then you need to. I don’t care if you’re pro or anti-musical… you need to see it.

Not only was this Yul Brynner’s greatest act (he won an Oscar for his performance in the movie, and a Tony for his Broadway performance), but you can’t NOT enjoy watching his interactions with Deborah Kerr as Anna. They get into some rip-roaring fights, and the King has some of the most marvelous quotes, as well (“I think your Moses, he shall have been a fool.”). No, this musical is not just about singing, even though Rodgers & Hammerstein were at the top of their game (“He will not always say what you would have him say… and then, all at once he’ll say something wonderful…”).

In my previous post, I mentioned “Out of My Dreams”, from Oklahoma!, but I find that another great R&H (that stands for Rodgers & Hammerstein, not Rhythm & Hip-hop) number that has the same feel to it is “Edelweiss”, which, of course, is from The Sound of Music. Now, I love The Sound of Music, but I am not a rabid fan, like some I know. I’ve never gone to hear the Von Trapps (great-grandchildren of the real-life Captain and Maria Von Trapp) sing, I don’t attend regular sing-alongs, and I don’t sing these songs proportionately more than any other musical. Strangely enough, I know people that are like the above description, and I know some people who REFUSE to ever see this musical, because they’ve heard the music too much from those that love it. It’s a funny world, don’t you think?

“Edelweiss” is so simple, and so beautiful. No wonder that most of us think it really is an actual Austrian folk song, or that it should be. Just a little thing, a flower, but it evokes so much to those that love their homeland. It symbolizes all that they love about their land, all that they’ve lost, and all that they hope to regain, eventually. And it’s home. How many of us look at a flower or a flag, and are immediately transported to home and our happiest memories?

Believe it or not, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” can be sung quietly to a sleepy baby. I know, we tend to think of it as a powerful song (and it is) that needs to be sung at the top of your lungs. And it can be, but never forget that a little volume reduction makes it suitable for toddlers and infants, as well.   : )

Carousel. Memories of my grandfather begin to surface. Can I ever watch that movie without thinking of him? So many people have never even heard of it. If that’s so, then you need to go see it, at once. How many times have I heard my grandpa singing “If I loved you, time and again, I would try to say all I want you to know. If I loved you, words wouldn’t come in an easy way…. round in circles, I’d go…”. Times innumerable, I’m sure. Carousel was my grandpa’s favorite musical, bar none. Starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones (yes, just like in Oklahoma!), it follows the love story of Julie Jordan and Billy Bigelow. I don’t think I can explain it to you. Too many memories tied up in it, and I can’t do it justice. But if you’ve ever heard the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, then it’s also from this musical. There’s also a small part with Jacques D’Amboise (famous ballet dancer, also stars in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) dancing in the circus ballet, later in the movie. If I remember correctly, he’s even younger in Carousel than he is in Seven Brides.

Oh, and before I forget, I love the movie version of Carousel, but there’s also a studio recording of it from back in 1987. It’s advertised as starring Sarah Brightman (no, that’s no why I’m telling you about it) and Samuel Ramey. Ramey is an opera star, as far as I know, and probably has too deep a voice for Billy, technically, but I still think he does a beautiful job. It’s a fabulous production, with a few songs that aren’t included in the movie. But my favorite part is at the end, when the graduating class sings “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, and Billy approaches Julie. She can’t see him, of course (he’s dead), but somehow, she hears him, when he says “I loved you, Julie. Know that I loved you”. He never said it to her, in life. And finally, she knows… and she smiles, and joins in the song.

I love Annie Get Your Gun. I dare anyone to sing “You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun”, and do it without smiling once. You can’t. Kind of like trying to sing “Me” from the Beauty & the Beast musical without a big grin on your face. I can’t do it. But how many times do we girls wish we COULD get a man with a gun?  : )   Ok, I don’t sing that one to the baby, really. It isn’t conducive to the lullaby format. But “The Girl That I Marry” is just perfect to soothe a sleepy baby into dreamland. Yes, this song makes me smile, too, but for a different reason than the previous song. It’s all about Frank Butler’s pipe dream of a girl to love, who’s all pink and white and absolutely perfect (“The girl that I marry will have to be as soft and as pink as a nursery…”). He finishes the description by suggesting that his girl will be a “doll I can carry”. Which is quite accurate, I think the closest he could possibly get to this is to actually buy himself a doll… one of the ones that opens and closes her eyes.

When I finally saw the movie, starring Betty Hutton and Frank Butler, my take on this song completely changed. Yes, it’s amusing, whenever she sees him and obviously drops her jaw over the sight of him, and for love of him. And it’s really cute when she informs him that “I’m a girl”. But then he begins to sing this song, and her expression changes to loss of hope and crushed dreams, wishing she could be the right girl for him. It’s all there, in her face, and of course, Frank doesn’t see it. He’s too full of himself. But how many of us girls have wished we could be that dream girl to a certain guy… and he never saw us, because maybe he’s looking for perfection?

Have you ever seen Rigoletto (starring Ivey Lloyd and Joseph Parr)? Put out by Feature Films for Families, it’s the best of any of the movies they ever produced. Straight to video movies for Christian families, some of their movies had some pretty awful acting and storylines… but hey, we kids weren’t critics. Usually. However, Rigoletto was the exception to the rule, and in addition to a sort of Beauty & the Beast storyline, it had some phenomenal singing. My favorite being “The Music Within”. Sung by Bonnie, at the singing competition, it’s one of those songs that knocks your socks off, at first hearing. “Every person you have known has a song all their own, once they open up, you’ll hear what’s there… There was a melody, locked deep inside of me, but now it’s free…”

So, I sing this one to the baby, as well as “The Curse” (sung by Joseph Parr, in the movie), which may sound odd, but when you slow it down a little bit, it’s perfect for the purpose (“There is no curse or evil spell that’s worse than one we give ourselves… there is no sorcerer as cruel as the proud, angry fool. And yet we cry, Life isn’t fair… beneath our cries, the truth is there…”). But I have to get into full Rigoletto singing mode for this one to occur to me.

How many reprises am I allowed? This one’s getting so long, I’ll have to do another. I’m afraid that the list of songs that I like to sing… well, it’s neverending. And as far as I can tell, the baby never gets tired of me singing them. Would you?

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