Cutting chai: Chasing lullabies

When my kids were little, I actually made up (cannot call it composing) a simple tune that I would sing to them. The lyrics were quite silly, but we used to sing it almost everyday to persuade the boys to sleep. Mostly, it was my husband and I who would beat them to it, though (falling off to sleep). I remember they would even start patting us to sleep as we drifted off. The lullaby was very effective! At that time, I was a bit shy to sing this in front of others, so it was a special, intimate experience we all shared, something in the category of “family secrets” that we promised each other we would never tell others. I thought the words and tune were childish, …..”Neeni neeni aaja, baby (their names would be inserted) ko sulaja” is hardly something you would put up for display, but being mother to two young ones was quite draining on my creativity, albeit temporarily! I thought rather poorly of the tune as well  ……. until one day, many years later, I stopped dead in my tracks. I heard the exact same notes in the opening melody of a newly released song. By this time, my sons were also helping expand my playlist, and I am not sure who heard it first. Maybe it was our own domestic dj!

The Cold Play song ‘In my place’ sent a chill down my back when I first heard it. The ting ting; ting ting ting ting ting ting. Ting………….tang ………. WAS EXACTLY THE SAME as our family lullaby, except that instead of singing about “How long must she wait for me”, our words were more like “Sleep, sleep, please (pleaaaase) come”. Ever since then, I felt better about my capacity for recognising music pieces, and of course, lullabies have been hot favourites, now that I really don’t need them.

When Pooja first introduced me to the Metallica Rockabye Baby album which fetures gentle versions of their top songs, like Pooja’s kids, I would listen to these everyday!  “Enter Sandman” with its sinister lyrics was particularly enjoyable!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD-E-LDc384

“Say your prayers little one
Don’t forget, my son
To include everyone
Tuck you in, warm within
Keep you free from sin
‘Till the sandman he comes
Sleep with one eye open
Gripping your pillow tight

Exit, light
Enter, night
Take my hand
We’re off to never-never land”

It was a song that made you open your eyes, yet the lullaby was delightfully soporific.  The irony is delightful! Here is the link to the Rockabye Baby, the lullaby version of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nV16UCnoMT8

Another favourite from the West is Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant’s ‘Rainbow’ where he sings, so beautifully:

“…… And I will be a rainbow when the storm has gone.

And I will bring my song for you; and I will carry on”.

https://youtu.be/F3L0EUbRJGk

Most recently, I chanced upon a Japanese lullaby somewhere. Always on the alert for an attractive piece of music, I whipped out my phone and tapped on the blue spiral of the Shazam App. I have hundreds of songs I have discovered like this, and when I want to feel special, I just select my Shazam playlist where the songs have nothing else in common except for an instant attraction for me. It’s like a diary of songs, marking both the shifts in interest and cultivated earworms. Although most of them are new, some forgotten ones also come up, and I save them so that they are never forgotten again.

This is how Takeda No Komoriuta (Takeda Lullaby), by Aiko Shimada And Elizabeth Falconer appeared on my playlist. I was instantly hooked, and after sending messages to my friends in Japan (Thank you Tatsuya Sato and Mami Kanzi), I was directed to the  English translation of the lyrics.

“I would hate baby-sitting beyond Bon Festival,
The snow begins to fall, and the baby cries.
How can I be happy even when Bon Festival is here?
I don’t have nice clothes or a sash to wear.
This child continues to cry and is mean to me.
Every day I grow thinner.
I would quickly depart here and go back.
In the distance, I can see my parents’ home”
Here is a link to a video of the lullaby: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B27yQMuTHWc
Enjoy! And do let us know about your favourite lullaby!

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