I’ve always been terrible at remembering lyrics. It may be because, when I was younger, I could love a song without being especially fond of the words. In fact some of my favourite bands had pretty terrible lyrics (naming no names, but I may just mention the initials RHCP). But, even though lyrics may not have been that important to me, I still find it astonishing that I could listen to a song literally hundreds of times and still be incapable of remembering the words.
As I’ve grown older, lyrics have grown more important to me. I still enjoy plenty of music with pretty minimal lyrics, or lyrics in a language I don’t understand, or no words at all. But, for many of my favourite artists, such as Joanna Newsom, Jeffrey Lewis and The Wave Pictures, their unique and beautiful use of language is at the heart of why I love their music. Still doesn’t make me any better at remembering the words when I try and sing along though.
My daughter however, is a different story. The rate at which children learn new words once they start to talk has always astonished me, and now my daughter has turned two she has quite the vocabulary. More recently, she’s started to pick up the words to songs as well. We’ve always sung a lot to her, whether it be nursery rhymes or songs we’ve made made up ourselves. My wife and I both often absent-mindedly sing whatever song happens to be in our head, sometimes having to check ourselves when we realise the line we’re about to sing is horrible inappropriate to sing in front of a toddler.
This is even more important now that she has started to sing the songs back to us. It started with just the odd word from ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’, but now no bathtime is complete without a wholehearted rendition of ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ accompanying herself on the drum. Nursery rhymes are par for the course with toddlers of course, so nothing too surprising about that, but my wife was rather surprised when our daughter started singing the Flight of the Conchords song ‘Carol Brown’ the other day. I think I must have been singing it around the house a lot, as we recently rewatched the series, but still, I’m going to have to be more careful about what I sing around her now. Either that, or exploit her abilities for comic effect by teaching her more songs that no-one would expect her to know.
In any case, I’m glad my daughter seems to love singing and I love to hear her sing. Any new music I hear, no matter how fine, is unlikely to sound as sweet to me as my daughters’ first broken attempts at nursery rhymes.