Sing Me a Good Night

Music has been an important part of my life. I’m not talking violin lessons or marching band, though. I’m talking good old rock & roll and pop music on the radio, and later on some indie and alternative stuff. It’s the stuff that’s the soundtrack to real life. It sets the tone and connects you to specific times. You know what I”m talking about.

I’ve been told that I ran around in a diaper singing John Couger Mellencamp’s “Serious Business” as a little girl. Obviously I didn’t look that up on the internet and learn the song myself. (It was the early 80’s, I was 2, etc.) And obviously I didn’t know what I was singing, because, well…. what toddler understands sex, violence and rock & roll? Being from Indiana, my parents were all about The Coug. So forever I will think of my childhood every time I hear one of his songs.

Now I have the upper hand: the ability to shape Walden’s childhood soundtrack. So when I decided that I wanted to put together a mix of songs to play each night at bedtime, I knew that it wasn’t a task to be taken lightly. It’s possible these will be some of the songs he knows best. What if I screw it up?

The good news is, we gave a list a test drive and were able to make adjustments without major consequences. There are a couple of songs that must stay in the mix forever, and the rest don’t matter because he’s asleep by the time they play. It only takes 2 to 3 songs to put him to sleep now, and I don’t ever hang around to listen to the whole mix. I will never travel without my iPod Touch — the kid will fall asleep on gravel to these songs.

Here are the few songs that, after weeks of practice, are really working out for us. After feeding him, I will swaddle him, turn on these tunes, pop in a paci and start swaying. Then magic happens!

  • St. Judy’s Comet by Paul Simon: Great for winding down and transitioning to quiet time. It is about a sleepy boy after all.
  • My Own Two Hands by Ben Harper & Jack Johnson: He’s usually asleep by the third verse, if I’m singing. Though I hope my vocals don’t turn him off to philanthropy down the line.
  • Imagine by John Lennon: I mean, come on. Do I really need to explain this one? It’s my job to balance out the whole military family thing.
  • Muna Xeia by Sarah Tavares: I don’t even know what language it’s in, but it’s a beautiful lullaby.

We also enjoy Sovay by Andrew Bird, Nightswimming by REM. I was into Upward Over the Mountain by Iron & Wine until I looked up the lyrics and learned how utterly depressing they are to a mother. (Oh yeah, did I mention that it’s nearly impossible for me to understand song lyrics? I don’t enjoy many musicals.)

Now I’m curious…what songs do you want your kids to know?


One thought on “Sing Me a Good Night

  1. My dad used to sing Moonshadow to us on his guitar. I’ve made attempts for them to get to know him through the music he made us listen to.
    As for my kids, I sang Dream a Little Dream of Me to them. Ella is named after Ella Fitzgerald, and seems to love music and picks up on lyrics quickly. I try to let them have their current music, but I try to give them opportunities to listen to a lot of indie music too. Everything from Michael Jackson to Pink Martini can be found on my mp3 player. I think it’s important for them to have variety and not fear listening to something that isn’t in the mainstream.

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