Archive for the tag 'oral history'

Hush little baby, don’t you cry

NS February 21st, 2010

…mama’s gonna sing you a lullaby.

Or is she?

A recent survey found that although 40% of parents thought lullabies were great tools for teaching children words and music, only 12% knew the words. More and more, parents are singing pop and rock songs to their children, or TV theme tunes. And there’s nothing wrong with that, of course. When I sing The Noble Baby to sleep, I’m known to throw in some Carol King (‘Child of Mine’), Joni Mitchell (‘The Circle Game’ and ‘River’), Aerosmith (‘Dream On’) and even some Rolling Stones (‘Wild Horses’), among others.

But I have to say, I am a huge fan of traditional lullabies. I think they’re not only beautiful and comforting but an important part of our oral storytelling history. My mother sang or played them for me and my sisters all throughout our childhoods, as did her mother before her. I know the words to at least a dozen still popular in the US and have learned many more while here in England. I have been singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ to my daughter every night since she was a baby and as soon as I turn out the light and begin, she automatically settles down onto her pillow and nods sleepily while I half-whisper the words. My 17-month-old son, always on my hip at bedtime, imitates her and rests his head on my shoulder. He’s learning quickly that lullaby time means sleep time.

What I didn’t know, however, is that there are three more verses to ‘Twinkle Twinkle’! And did you know that Little Bo Peep has five? Already we have lost big parts of these songs and what little remains is fading fast, which makes me quite sad. That’s why when I heard about this fantastic campaign to Save The Lullaby, I was immediately interested. And when I discovered that Sophie Barker (who has sung for Zero 7, one of my favourite bands and whose song ‘In The Waiting Line’ I listened to constantly when pregnant with TNC) was behind the campaign and has released a new CD with producer KK (who has worked with Brian Eno and Bjork), I went from interested to excited.

I listened to a couple clips from their new CD, entitled ‘Lullaby’, and was mesmerized, as were my children. TNC curled up in my lap and sat in silence for a good ten minutes, which is unheard of. The CD* has been in my player all morning, on repeat, and I’ve not grown tired of it at all. It also comes with a beautifully illustrated hardcover booklet with lyrics to all the songs so you can sing along.

You can also see Sophie and KK on BBC News talking about the project and playing another piece live.

“The album, ‘Lullaby’, makes a stand for our forgotten bedtime tunes,” says Sophie, “ it reminds parents of the magic and soothing quality of our traditional lullabies – we’ve even included a sing-a-long lyric book for those who are more likely to know the Friends theme tune than Frere Jacques.”

The full song list includes:

1. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

2. Somewhere Over The Rainbow

3. Ride a Cock Horse

4. Lavender’s Blue

5. Frere Jacques

6. There was a Crooked Man

7. Sing a Song of Sixpence

8. Little Bo Peep

9. Baa Baa Black Sheep

10. Little Miss Muffet

11. Brahms Lullaby

12. Oranges And Lemons

13. Hush Little Baby

14. Rock a Bye Baby

15. Dream a Little Dream

16. The Owl and the Pussycat

17. Row Your Boat

18. Silent Night

If any of you are interested and depending on the response shown here, there may be an opportunity for me to interview Sophie (squeeee!) so if you have any questions you’d like me to ask her about the CD, put them in comments or you can email them to me at noblesavage @ noblesavage(dot)me(dot)uk.

‘Lullaby’ can be bought from Sophie’s site or the usual suspects like Amazon and Play.

*Full disclosure — it was sent to me by the album’s PR company, though I fell in love with it immediately so would have bought it regardless!

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