This week’s prompt for 52 ancestors is Music.
I have dabbled in music throughout my life. As a girl, I took piano lessons. As a teenager, I took flute lesson so I could join the high school marching band and later added the piccolo to my skills. I’ve sung in school and church choirs for a good part of my life. I enjoyed these seasons of my life, even if I wasn’t always very good at it.
I think the desire to have music in my life came from my mom and her mom. Here are their stories in three short movements.
Movement 1: Catch a Falling Star & Sweet Caroline
I have this beautiful memory my mom and grandma. We were all sitting in the family van in the driveway to our house in Kileen, Texas. Grandma lived 3 hours away and came often for visits. I was probably 4 or 5 years old. I’m not sure where we were returning from, but it was dusk, and I remember the headlights of the van shinning on the garage door. Mom and grandma were singing “Catch a Falling Star.” I thought it was the most wonderful song and I loved hearing them sing it together. Until very recently, I thought it was sung by Neil Diamond because grandma LOVED Neil Diamond (and maybe mom and her sister had just taken grandma to see him in concert).
Grandma also loved “Sweet Caroline.” I remember singing it with her and watching her eyes sparkle and the way they did when she sang a song she loved. At family reunions, her grandchildren sometimes sing it in her honor.
Movement 2: Three Part Harmony
My mom has two sisters, one older and one younger. You can tell they’re sister by the way they talk and act when their together. Their bond is so special, you can always feel the love that they have for each other. I was blessed to see them together often as their kids grew and they were able to travel together, almost yearly.
At a family reunion many years ago, the three of them were laughing at something and it sounded like three-part harmony. I wish we had recorded that moment. Mom’s oldest sister passed away three years ago.
Movement 3: A Lullaby
My mom used to sing songs to me and my sister at bedtime. My mom is a walking songbook. The two I remember best, and that were often sung together, were “Kentucky Babe” and “Hey, Babe.” Mom sung these slightly differently than what I can find elsewhere (see our lyrics at the end of this post). She is pretty sure she learned them from her mom. Whenever I think of her singing those songs, I feel safe and comforted. I can still remember her standing by the window in our room, singing, her silhouette outlined by the dim light coming from outside.
This version of “Kentucky Babe” has an extra verse, but sounds most like the version my mom sang.
As a mom, I have introduced these two songs to my two boys. I think they love them as much as I do and can even sing along. One of my favorite things is when my younger son asks me to sing, “Skeeters.”
Kentucky Babe (lyrics as sung by our family)
Skeeters are a hummin’
on a honeysuckle vine.
Sleep Kentucky Babe!
Sandman is a comin’
to this little babe of mine.
Sleep Kentucky Babe!
Silver moon’s a shinin’
in the heavens up above
bobolink is pinin’ for his little lady love . . .
You is might lucky
Babe of old Kentucky
close your eyes in sleep . . .
fly away, Kentucky Babe,
fly away to rest, fly away,
lay your sleepy head
on your mammy’s breast,
hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm,
hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm.
Close your eyes in sleep.
Hey, Babe (as sung by our family. The tune is the same as this version.)
Hey, Babe, Sandman’s a comin’ and he’ll
Be here mighty, mighty soon.
and if you don’t cry, he’ll be passin’ by
on his great big lollipop moon
Don’t you love my little baby.
Sweet and precious little baby.
Don’t you love my little baby,
Honest, a-goodness, I do!