I learned a lot of stuff in preparation for The Squirrelly, but, alas, the words to popular lullabies were not among them.
I know the melodies to most of the classics, but I can usually only remember the first verse of words; after that I have to resort to improv. I figure it doesn’t matter what I say, as long as I sing it softly and keep the beat. Unfortunately, this philosophies results in calamities like the Brahms Lullaby sung as:
La la blah blah
I think this song
Is in German
Eins zwei drei vier funf
Girls gone wild
Where’s the beef?
I’ve got Pacman fever
Four score and
Bingo was his name-oh.
The great thing about this strategy is that you can tailor your lyrics for the situation.
[Fifteen minutes and six made-up “Brahms Lullaby” verses later:]
No, for real
Go to sleep
Or we’ll sell you
On E-bay …
Of course, coming up with words to lullabies off the top of your head takes some mental acuity, something I am often lacking at 2:30 in the morning. Then I resort to singing the only songs I know by heart: (a) 80’s tunes that I listened to so frequently as a teen that they are indelibly etched into my synapses, and (b) 80’s tunes that I learned the lyrics to by reading them off of a karaoke screen while drunkenly belting out them out in a bar. Unfortunately for The Squirrelly, the these two categories combine in a playlist suitable for the Worst Mix Tape Ever:
- Careless Whisper by Wham
- Love Cats by The Cure
- Kiss by Prince
- Stay Up Late by the Talking Heads
- Just a Gigalo by David Lee Roth
- Hit Me With Your Best Shot by Pat Bennetar
- Happy Hour by the Housemartins
- True by Spandau Ballet
- Stragelove by Depeche Mode
- Forgive me, but, yes, Two Princes by the Spin Doctors
These work pretty well for calming the kid down but they don’t really help him doze off. Getting carried around by a guy bellowing Bizarre Love Triangle is not exactly Nature’s Narcotic, it turns out.
Last night, having run through all my pop tunes and at the end of my rope, I resorted to singing the only song in my repertoire that approximates a lullaby: Asleep by The Smiths.
Well, it worked — he drifted off about halfway through. But we’ll probably have to pay it off in therapy bills somewhere down the line.