I am not a housekeeper. I mean, I get by, but don’t white glove my apartment, you might have to throw those gloves out.
I am not a cook. I’m getting better and better, and I actually enjoy making food now, but I am not a master chef by any stretch.
I am, however, a singer. I mean, I’m no Whitney Houston, but I enjoy singing, I can do it on key and I used to be really good at it. So, before my son was born, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to sing him when I rocked him to sleep. I thought I knew the songs I would sing. I even picked some out before he was born. There was a song I sang to him in utero that became his name instead. Now, I can’t bear to sing it to him, because I know he will hear for a lifetime.
There were my mother’s songs: Silly Love Songs
And On the Street Where You Live:
The latter of which, my sister adopted, along with A Few of My Favorite things:
and Moon, Moon, Moon
And so, when my little guy was born, I adopted Moon, Moon, Moon as well, and little dude has some instrumentals he really likes (Bob James’ Take me to the Mardi Gras, and Erik Satie’s Gymnopedie no. 1), but the front runner for lullaby in our household is definitely Castle on a Cloud.
There was a time when I was embarrassed of my love of Les Mis. It was so cool when I was 13. So cool that I dressed up in peddle pushers and pulled my hair back in a ponytail to perform a masterful cross-dressed lip-sync to One Day More with all my friends (did I mention I was in the marching band too? That I played the trombone? Yup. I was definitely a cool kid). But then it became uncool to like all the things we liked when we were 13. Edgy, less billowing musicals were “cooler.” If there wasn’t a dissonant chord or a difficult syncopation, it was, like, something your mom listened to while she dusted the living room.
I don’t know, I still love Les Mis. I am too old to tell what’s cool again that wasn’t and what’s not cool that was. What I do know is that Castle on a Cloud holds up. It’s just melancholy enough. Its A minor chord is reminiscent of hymns I sang in Mass. It’s just short enough to be memorizable and it’s meditative when sung over and over and over and over and over again.
And yeah, the lyrics are sad if you are thinking of a little orphan girl whose mom has died, but I like to think of them as an illustration of the far off safe space we all have to build to get by in this world. I hope little buddy feels the same way.
Here’s a version of Castle on a Cloud. I stop before the part where she gets yelled at by Helena Bonham Carter, and I don’t whisper “Cosette, I love you very much” –that is in fact my favorite part of the song to sing. Stretching it out and letting it drift into the next verse.
What about you? What lullabies do you sing?