Some special songs are not about love, sex, drugs or rock ‘n’ roll, but a result of the aforementioned – children. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not talking about songs to entertain kiddies, but songs that celebrate the arrival of children, that contain parents’ hopes for their offspring, and even those that record the less inspiring moments of parenthood.
I’m not sure if fewer of these songs are being written these days, or maybe it’s my disconnect from popular music. There was a time when almost every major singer-songwriter seemed to have a song on becoming a parent. The songs comprise an overlooked genre that we’re exploring now with the approach of Mother’s Day on Sunday and FatherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Day next month. Send me your favorites and maybe we can update this before FatherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Day.
Stevie WonderÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s “IsnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t She Lovely”:http://steviewonder.free.fr/html/song32.html is the only song here that could be described as a hit. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a short song, only three verses, and a great take on the first thrill of becoming a parent. The song opens with a baby’s wail and proceeds:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IsnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t she lovely,
IsnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t she wonderful,
IsnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t she precious,
Less than one minute old
I never thought that weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be
Making one as lovely as she.
But isn’t she lovely made from loveÃ¢â‚¬?
Taking this chronologically, at least for the newborn, next comes “First Born”:http://www.songmeanings.net/lyric.php?lid=106939 by the Canadian songwriters and sisters Kate & Anna McGarrigle. The song covers a lot of ground and apparently was inspired by the birth of Kate’s son, singer Rufus Wainwright:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“DaddyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s buddies send the flowers,
MotherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s friends have baby showers.Ã¢â‚¬?
The McGarrigles can’t help but worry about the kid’s future:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Some of them make it,
Some of them donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t.
Some of then canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t,
Others wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t grow up.Ã¢â‚¬?
But they decide that’s for the future and return to celebrate the growing boy:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“YesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the first born son,
That son of a gun,
Just hates to walk,
Just loves to run,
Just as fast as he can
With life held tight,
In the palm of his hand.Ã¢â‚¬?
Long before he wrote movie sound tracks, Randy Newman was a wonderful writer of satirical songs. When he took on parenthood in “Memo to My Son”:http://www.lyricsdepot.com/randy-newman/memo-to-my-son.html it was with self-effacing humor.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I know you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think much of me,
But some day youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll understand.
WaitÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll you learn how to talk, baby,
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll show you how smart I am.Ã¢â‚¬?
Paul SimonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s view in “St. Judy’s Comet”:http://www.lyricsdomain.com/16/paul_simon/st_judys_comet.html is similar:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well I sang it once,
Then I sang it twice,
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m going to sing it three times more.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m going to stay til your resistance is overcome.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœCause if I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t sing my boy to sleep
Well it makes your famous daddy look so dumb.Ã¢â‚¬?
In “That was your Mother”:http://www.lyricsdomain.com/16/paul_simon/that_was_your_mother.html, Simon makes it clear that kids don’t always seem like a blessing:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well that was your mother,
And that was your father,
Before you was born dude,
When life was great,
You are the burden, of my generation,
I sure do love you,
But let’s get that straightÃ¢â‚¬?
“The Marvelous Toy”:http://www.mydfz.com/Paxton/lyrics/tmt.htm by Tom Patxon is part of the kiddy music cannon, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also a song about the connection between generations. It ends with Paxton presenting to his son his own favorite childhood toy and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s easy to imagine his son passing it on, too. The song was written when Paxton was in the Army and forced into typing training.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well, the years have gone by too quickly, it seems,
I have my own little boy.
And yesterday I gave to him my marvelous little toy.
His eyes nearly popped right out of his head,
And he gave a squeal of glee.
Neither one of us knows just what it is,
but he loves it, just like me.”
I can t imagine a better pray for one’s child than Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young”:http://www.bobdylan.com/moderntimes/songs/forever.html. And for the record, it was written many years before an identically titled song by Rod Stewart.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay forever young.Ã¢â‚¬?
Many of these songs may not be known by new parents, the most recent was released about about 20 years ago. So if you are of a younger generation Ã¢â‚¬â€œ or older one, for that matter Ã¢â‚¬â€œ tell me your favorite song about parenthood.