Every night when I put the kids to bed, you can bet they will ask for a few things to prolong the routine: a glass of water, a prayer, and a song. Singing a song at bedtime has been a tradition stretching back to when they each were sleepless newborns longing for the soothing voice of a parent. At first, we would sing them a few classic lullabies but over time they demanded more and more variety. One night, as the angry mob was chanting “one more song” and I had already blown through my usual repertoire, I started singing:
You throw your hands way up in the air
You put them up like you just don’t care
Let me tell you that I ain’t no czar
You walk like a dinosaur
These were the words to a song my dad had written for me when I was probably about five years old. I hadn’t thought about it for at least twenty years but the words came as naturally as they had when he first sang it for me. The kids were silent for a minute but then shouted “sing it again!”. It was an instant classic.
I remember dad’s writing process for the song: he knew that I liked Walk Like An Egyptian (see last week’s issue) and obsessed about dinosaurs. Having little musical ability, he sat down at our Casio keyboard and turned on automatic mode where playing one key translated to playing a full chord. Five minutes of struggling through melodies later and he had the finished product.
This memory is a nice reminder that making music doesn’t have to be complicated or serious. It can be spontaneous, simple, and silly. Recently, playing music has felt more like a chore. I blame this on the pressure of having to make something “good” but “good” is almost impossible to quantify. I’d say a song that has lived for 25 years and passed between generations would qualify.