I've added a new lullabye to my repertoire for Adinah's bedtime. It's "Love Bug" by George Jones, a sweet but thoroughly ridiculous country and western song from the Sixties. I thought she might like to know why I call her "bug" all the time (although the real reason is that back in Texas, saying someone is "cute as a bug" is a form of high praise). And now that she's starting to understand most of the words that I'm singing to her, it's about time I introduce a song that isn't about desperation, loss or murder.
My choice of nighty-night songs for Adinah has always been mildly perverse. They're all songs that I love, and like to sing (in my homely, atonal croak) but they're not exactly Blues Clues material. For a while, I was doing "Roam" by the B-52's, which is about wanderlust, and loving someone enough to let them go. That made sense (to me) because Adinah's been a world traveler since she was eight months old, beginning with a two day road trip in a Toyota Landcruiser from the north of Ethiopia to the capitol, where we met her for the very first time.
I still sing Otis Redding's "(Sitting on the)Dock of the Bay" to Deanie,and no two ways about it, that's a sad sad song. Is the protagonist actually homeless, or just achingly lonely? I don't know, but it's always killed me when Otis starts whistling at the end of the number, and that, plus the way the bass bumps, and the wave sound effects that come in, makes the record sound like the most peaceful end of the road a living human can reach. So far, Adinah hasn't asked me any questions about what that song means, but she will soon enough.
Then there's "El Paso" by Marty Robbins, the original country crooner. I must have been listening to this song since I was 8, first on AM radios, then on Radio Shack stereos, then on CDs, but it only started making me cry when I got to be a grown-ass man, fully informed about what bad love can do to a cowboy (or a NYC rock critic.) Maybe I wanted to sing it to my daughter because El Paso was the town where my father lived and died. Or I started doing this one at bedtime because it's long and repetitive and I thought that would be soothing for D. When she was small, she'd always conk out just after the hero shoots his rival dead, but way before he himself dies in a hail of bullets. But really I just wanted to sing it to myself, because it may be the most gorgeously tragic song I know, and because it really does make me think of the sound of the wind on a moonless night in the West Texas desert.
Nevertheless, now that Adinah's starting to stop me after every line of it and ask why the first cowboy hurt the second one, well, maybe I'll phase "El Paso" out of my regular set.
"Love Bug" is a bit more upbeat. The chorus goes like this:
"Well, the little itty bitty teenie weenie thing they call the love bug\Nobody's ever seen it but it's got the whole world shook up\It all started with a little bitty kiss and a hug\Just a teeny weeny itty bitty thing they call the love bug!"