When my children were babies, I knew no lullabies.
So, I often sang them to sleep with other tunes as they lay in their cribs or rested their heads on my shoulder while I walked them around their bedrooms.
Peter, Paul and Mary songs seemed appropriate and since the one about Stewball — the racehorse who never drank water and only drank wine — was my favorite, it was the one they heard most.
My limited repertoire also included a few Roger Miller songs, so the kids got a taste of “Engine, Engine # 9” and “Do-Wacka-Do.”
They were too young to understand the words, and I’ve never been a threat to Andrea Bocelli’s status, but what mattered to my children was a soothing voice until they drifted to sleep.
Later, along with bedtime stories, songs like “You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd,” and “Love Potion No. 9” made bedtime fun. Sarah, to her father’s pride, later won talent show awards singing both songs.
Better voices of artists on vinyl played a lot in our home as well. The music the kids heard on a daily basis was heavy on folk and rock ’n’ roll with mixtures of jazz, Randy Newman and Willie Nelson mixed in.
My older son, Dobin, came to refer to classical scores as “Sunday morning music,” because it usually played as we ate breakfast before church.
All of my children achieved something I always longed to do, but never took the time to learn. They played band instruments and taught themselves guitar.
In living-room concerts, they have returned some of the joys of music I shared with them when they were little.
I can think of no way I’d rather spend an evening than listening to my children play guitars and sing. They rarely do that anymore, and I prefer not to press them when they return home; nevertheless we still share a musical bond.
They continue to like some of the artists I introduced them to, like the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Neil Young and Arlo Guthrie.
They, in turn, have kept me abreast of their new musical interests.
As Casey and Sarah visited last weekend, we listened to Fleet Foxes and similar artists that popped up when we played favorites on Pandora.
Sarah told us about a new find of hers — Alabama Shakes. The sound of their female vocalist reminded me of Irma Thomas.
I was surprised when I received quizzical looks at the mention of her name and realized I had left a gap in their musical educations.
After a brief overview of her importance, I didn’t even have to search out her albums and dust of a turntable. It took just a few remote control clicks to treat them to that special voice.
As with most things in life, musical knowledge is nice to receive and give, especially with your kids.
Advocate Florida Parishes bureau chief Bob Anderson welcomes comments by email to banderson@
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