My grandson Emytt is not always in the mood to be in the car and will let you know about it by screaming until he is taken out of his car seat. There is one thing that soothes him and that is a cd with children’s songs sang by children, the lead of which seems to have a speech impediment, a cute speech impediment but an impediment all the same.
One day I took my wife’s car to do some errands when this cd kicked on automatically. It takes a minute for the bluetooth to connect to my phone and so I did not turn it off right away and what I heard was horrifying. These old folk songs we teach our kids are dark and morbid.
I suppose it makes sense when you think about the fairy tales we were told as children. I mean where does it say that Humpty Dumpty was an egg? The rhyme takes on a darker tone without this preconception.
I’ve heard the theories about “ring around the rosey” being about the black plague, which makes sense. A rosy rash was a symptom of the plague, and posies were carried as protection and to ward off the smell of the disease and finally "all fall down". That song is dark in its own right.
I guess the song that tipped me off was “Billy Boy” where the Billy is asked where he has been and he responds that he is looking for a wife, found a girl he likes but that she is “too young to leave her mother”.
Another song on the cd was “My Darling Clementine”, about a boy who lamenting the loss of a girl, Clementine, that falls into “the foaming brine”, but he admits that he “is no swimmer” and watches her drown. Clementine’s father stricken with grief joins his daughter. The song ends with the boy forgetting about Clementine after kissing her little sister. Ya know, kids songs.
Were people out of their minds back when these songs were popular or was death just so common it no longer bothered them?
Another jaunty tune is “Jimmy Crack Corn” sung by a slave about his master that dies in a horseriding accident.
I’m thinking about switching out Emytt’s cd with one full of sitcom theme music. Short catchy tunes with a little less, murder and mayhem. Instead of “Mary Mary Quite Contrary” about the bloody reign of the Queen and he torture methods perhaps we could substitute the “Mr. Ed” theme song or “Gilligan's” Island, or how about “The Flintstones”.
Don’t get me wrong I love history and we can get into all of the blood and gore later but for now I think it is best we set aside the darkness and dread of life until the kid knows what he is listening to.