Sunday, December 09, 2007

Let's Teach Them the Strangest Songs First

It will come as no surprise to those of you who know me that I've heard and sang more nursery rhymes in the past 10 months of dadhood than in the previous 25 years of non-dadhood. Living with a toddler means singing songs that are so ancient in your memory that they practically come out with cobwebs.

Now, I knew that one nursery rhyme – Ring Around the Rosie – had an alleged connection to the Great Plague of London, and that another nursery rhyme – Pop Goes the Weasel – was a drinking song in Cockney rhyming slang, but I'd never really paid much attention to the marvel that is I've Been Working on the Railroad.

Railroad is a musical oddity. It has a verse (I've been working on the railroad...), a chorus (Dynah won't you blow...), and a bridge section that is repeated (Someone's in the kitchen with Dynah... & Singing fee-fi-fiddily-i-oh...). In short, there's a lot going on.

The origin of this nursery room musical hodge-podge? Yep, you guessed it — it's two racially-charged folk songs smashed together.

Popular culture, your strangeness never fails to impress and confuse.

1 comment:

SaxBoy said...

We have found our little one remains calm on the changing table when we sing to him... one could write a children's music CD by simply writing down some of the creative blurbs that come out.

Last night we sang "20 Little Leapfrogs," (very popular Fridge DJ tune) however since the diaper change was taking longer than usual, I added in an additional verse from the song I think this is based on, something out of my own politically-incorrect cobwebs... "10 Little Indians." I of course informed our son that the verse contained some inappropriate lyrics.