The reason I had to get my nails done this weekend is because I was attending a birthday party for a one-year-old that was full of Russian women waiting to judge me.
If a one-year-old does not remember a birthday party, did the party happen? This is a philosophical question for another day, a day when I need more site traffic from BlogHer.
What I’d really like to talk about is the quality of music at children’s birthday parties:
One of the songs that looped constantly throughout the party was The Lion Sleeps Tonight, which is actually a song we should be singing to children. If you think about it because it’s a lesson in politics, OR a lesson in being badass and killing lions OR a lesson in white people appropriating African culture disguised by AWHEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOEEEEEE Wimbaway:
In the liner notes to one of his recordings, Seeger explained his interpretation of the song, which he believed to be traditional, as an instance of a “sleeping-king” folk motif about Shaka, Warrior King of the Zulus, along the lines of the mythical European sleeping king in the mountain: Shaka the Lion, who heroically resisted the armies of the European colonizers, is supposed not to be dead but only sleeping and will one day awaken and return to lead his oppressed people to freedom. University of Texas folklorist, Veit Erlmann, however, argues that the song’s meaning is more literal and refers to an incident in Linda’s own youth when he actually killed a lion cub.
So many lessons! “Gather around, kids. Let me tell you about the murder of Patrice Lumumba!”
Which got me to thinking. Which other songs are potentially simple, but deceptively so, and teach Things? Real Thing? Here are the songs I plan to traumatize all the children I know with:
- Russian lullabies. DUH. WINNING.
- The Banana Boat Song: Catchy, cheerful, exploitation of workers, organizing in unions, tarantulas, yellow fever, Panama Canal, Monroe Doctrine, Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, teddy bears.
- If I Had a Hammer: Social justice, Pete Seeger, unions again, commies, can white non-Muslims actually call anyone “brother” or “sister” without it sounding insensitive?, civil rights, hippies, hipsters, hips, hi.
- I’m Just a Bill: Government shutdowns. Our legislative process. Fear. Anger. Hope. Change. Fox News. Rupert Murdoch. His wife is HOW old? How to correctly pronounce Boehner. Later, you find out it’s about a guy named Bill who REALLY liked hanging out in DC.
- Eli,Eli: Soothing until kids learn it was written by a Zionist woman who parachuted to a certain demise in Yugoslavia by being shot at least three times in her execution, all because she was just like your little Shlomi (i.e. Jewish). Then you can teach them ALL about the Holocaust.
- Run Away: Catchy pop song that forces your kids to listen to your favorite early 90s dance music AND learn about Big Brother. Also commies. Not to mention dystopia. (“You’re sad because I took away your Legos, Timmy? Wait until the government takes away our house! It could be worse! No wait, don’t cry, don’t cry. We still have the Bill of Rights.”)
- Summer of ’69: Nice, cute song. At the beginning, teaches your kids about making memories and working real hard, keeping promises. Then, when they’re older, teaches your kids all about double entendres and what a punny genius Bryan Adams thinks he is.
- Yellow Submarine (do I need to link to this one?): Ecological. Then, later, really ecological. Hemp-based, even. I am ashamed to say that Mr. B had to explain this double meaning to me. Last year.
- Pata Pata: Playful, fun, easy to mimic for little kids until they grow up and realize it’s about groping people on Friday nights.