Friday, June 11, 2010

Leonard Cohen, Children's entertainer

This last week, Amynah’s been working like a maniac on a grant, and so I’ve had more Sana duty than usual. Sana seems to require a lot of stimulation to keep her not-bored and therefore not-cranky, and I’ve run out of ideas to keep her distracted: she figured out “peek-a-boo” for the scam it is a while ago, and is no longer inclined to humour us on the issue.

This morning, in desperation, I took out my guitar, and sang her some songs. Sadly, I don’t know very many songs all the way through, and those that I do are not exactly baby friendly. Here is my version of Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire,” performed reggae-style, with improvised melodic commentary to make it child friendly in parentheses.

Like a bird, on a wire (birdy!)
Like a drunk, in a midnight choir (he’s drunk on life!)
I have tried, in my way, to be free (yay!)

Like a worm, on a hook (he’s hanging around!)
Like a knight, in an old fashioned book (horsey!)
I have saved all my ribbons for thee (that means you!)

If I, if I have been unkind (I haven’t! Don’t cry!)
I hope that you will just let it go by (Really, don’t cry!)
If I, if I have been untrue (he means lying. Really!)
I hope you know that it wasn’t to you (Lying's bad!)

Like a babe, (new) born (not disturbing at all!)
Like a beast, with his horn (like a rhino!)
I have torn everyone that reached out for me (by accident, and he’s sorry!)

But I swear, by this song (singing! Yay!)
And all the things I’ve done wrong (like choosing this song to sing!)
I will make it, all up to thee (ice cream!)

Saw a beggar, leaning on his wooden crutch (he’ll get better!)
He said to me, you must not ask for so much (Listen to the beggar man!)
I saw a lady, leaning, in her darkened door (she's not a hooker!)
She said to me, why not ask for more (don’t listen to the hooker!)

At that point, I figured that I’d better quit before launching into “House of the Rising Sun.”


Jen said...

I think Leonard Cohen is the perfect choice of music for the very young. When Ava was a little under a year "Ten New Songs" can out, and we would listen to it endlessly and for a while it became her nightime music. It's a GREAT album to dance with your tiny daughter to!

Brian Busby said...

Much as I love Leonard, please keep little Sana away from "Hunter's Lullaby". Do not be fooled by the title.

May I recommend Neil Young's "Helpless"? All that wonderful imagery:

Blue, blue windows behind the stars,
Yellow moon on the rise,
Big birds flying across the sky...

As a three-year-old my daughter understood that last line as "Big Bird's flying across the sky..." Sesame Street fans will appreciate the difference.

belsohni said...

My first born liked Rancid and The Clash.

My youngest had a clear preference for dance music, still does.

Sana sounds like a girl who probably has a preference as well.

For sleepy time music they both liked light classical music and soft nature sounds.

Candace said...

My niece likes to alternate between the Wiggles and KISS. Seriously, she loves them both.

Michael Mattison said...

Mark -- Thanks so much for your comment on my Strasbourg post. Much appreciated, as are your culinary tips.
All the best,