Folk Songs

Folk songs can become the sound-track of our lives in a really special way.  Mundane, every day moments because enriched, sprinkled with star dust, tinted by rainbows when a child brings a song into the moment. There’s something really special about those. I have forever burned on my mind a beautiful image of two little girls in pig-tails, holding hands and leaping off our porch steps on their way to the mailbox, singing a snatch of line from a folksong, “I got a letter this morning, ohhhh, yes! I got a letter this morning, oh, oh, yes.”

Somebody else told me about her son rolling down the car window on a trip during the start of a rain storm and singing to himself “It’s windy weather, boys!” It need not be so poignant. It can be silly and playful.  There’s a song called Scotland’s Burning that my children revised to much laughter on one long trip.  The song is here.  The lyrics are:

Scotland’s Burning, Scotland’s burning
Look out! Look out!
Fire, fire, fire fire!
Pour on water
Pour on water

On the trip, my husband passed gas and he thought nobody would notice.  Nobody could avoid noticing.  The children rapidly rolled down their windows and then started singing:

Daddy’s stinking, Daddy’s stinking!

Look out! Look out!

Pee-yoo, pee-yoo, phew, phew!!

Roll down the windows
Roll down the windows!
Ahhhhh.

On other occasions, I have seen the five little ducks song such forlornly by a displaced child (it broke my heart), a mournful rendition of “It’s beans, beans, beans that make you feel so mean” to help a child cope with a disliked supper, songs used to vent or express emotions too powerful for children to explain by themselves.  I find it fascinating that there are many non-literate cultures, cultures with no written alphabet, but I know of no culture without home-grown music. Yet we are losing that gift, that precious heritage.

Folk music gives children (and adults) words and music to express their feelings over common, every day things of life. It’s a way of improving their emotional vocabulary.  Sing.

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2 Comments

  1. Frances
    Posted September 9, 2017 at 12:09 am | Permalink

    Ours was:

    London’s burning
    London’s burning
    Fetch the engines
    Fetch the engines
    Fire fire!
    Fire fire
    In the valley below!

    Never clear what valley, but always recall the view from the top of Hampstead Heath on a good day, clear to St Paul’s Cathedral.

  2. Lisa Beth W.
    Posted September 9, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I couldn’t agree with you more.

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