Monday, September 29, 2008

Rainy Days


It rained for a couple of days last week, and we were stuck indoors. I had recently acquired a second-hand copy of the Eloise Wilkin/Golden Books classic We Help Mommy (above) at Really Rosie's recommendation, and I attempted a social experiment by reading it to my two-year-old repeatedly; he was game at first, and even declared that he wanted to help Mommy, but that help consisted mainly of emptying the waste baskets onto the floor. So I went to the wonderful Children's Vinyl Record Series website (about which I've blogged previously), and my son and I downloaded some of the old LPs that some marvelously generous soul has converted to .mp3s and posted for all to enjoy. Our picks included Everybody Sing! International Folk Songs, which made me nostalgic for my left-wing childhood (can anyone tell me whether children in right-wing households learn international folk songs too?) and A Child's Introduction to Gilbert and Sullivan, which was a big hit, as my two-year-old is already a fan of H.M.S. Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance. The site has some real treasures, and is evidently part of a Christian initiative to reclaim and reform the arts, which is not a bad idea altogether.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you!

Otepoti

Pentimento said...

Let me know if you find anything wonderful on the vinyl records site when you have the chance, Otepoti.

Anonymous said...

International folk songs? Yes, sure - like

[class of bawling ten-year-olds]:

"This land is your land,
This land is my land,
From Cape Reinga
To Stewart Island,
From the kauri forests
To the southern mah-ah-tains,
This land was made for you and me.'

You have to hand it to our teachers for cannibalizing the cultural capital of the world...

Otepoti

Pentimento said...

That's funny, Otepoti! Actually, some of the songs on the LP I downloaded I recognized from my primary school days, where they were taught pretty faithfully, like "Linstead Market" - but I suppose the Beach Boys cannibalized that one.

dreshny said...

I remember being taught to sing Harry Belafonte's "Jamaican Farewell" when I was in kindergarten! And in second grade we were taught some sort of slave song, "Cotton Needs Pickin' So Bad," to be sung while we mimed picking cotton.

Pentimento said...

This sounds like my primary school music instruction. I loved those songs! I was amazed, when I was dating my first right-wing boyfriend a few years ago, to discover that he loved Woody Guthrie - in fact, I'm still a little bemused about that one.

dreshny said...

Well, you were in elementary school during the heyday of the folk revival, and I was elementary-aged during it's tail end. I wonder if music is taught totally differently now, though my toddler's Music Together curriculum did feature folk songs from around the world.

dreshny said...

I meant "its."

Pentimento said...

No need to correct your usually impeccable grammar, Dreshny; I got it.

My commenters all seem to be making me out to be older than I actually am. The height of the folk revival was actually in the 1950s and early 1960s, before I was born. I suppose it had filtered into elementary school by the 1970s, however, when I was a young 'un.

Pentimento said...

Did your son's Music Together curriculum use "Tumbalalaika"? I always thought it was a Russian song, but it's on that Everybody Sing! LP in Yiddish.

One thing I didn't like about Music Together was the way they sanitize the traditional lyrics. It didn't kill us to know that slave songs were about being a slave, after all.

dreshny said...

LOL! That wasn't my intention! Well, I certainly heard my share of folk music and wore my share of aproned peasant dresses growing up in the 70s and early 80s, so I guess I assumed the folk revival went later.

dreshny said...

No, we had a Yiddish lullaby called "Raisins and Almonds," that's translated into English on the CD, but the German teacher sang it to the class in the original Yiddish.

What made me laugh and shake my head was the gospel song, "Good News, Chariot's a-Comin'" which got re-purposed into "Beep! Beep! The Bus is Comin,'" sung by an obviously African-American voice on the CD. I could only guess at what she might have thought at being asked to sing that.

Pentimento said...

Oh yeah, that's the sort of thing I mean! "Grandma Yvette" sang all the traditionally black songs on the MT CDs . . .

dreshny said...

Exactly! Grandma Yvette! Loved her.

Pentimento said...

OK, what about "Uncle Jerry"? He's the overly-sinere folk-singer in the Pete Seeger/Oscar Brandt vein - a real throwback. He sings all the songs in Spanish with painstaking diction.

dreshny said...

Yeah, I remember him on "Everybody Loves Saturday Night," singing in English and Spanish. He made less of an impression than Grandma Yvette, but I also had different songs than you did.

It always baffled me that the performers aren't really credited on the CDs. I'd love to see a name and photo to connect with the "character."