laugh, kookaburra, laugh

dylan's picture book is full of all sort of useful words for babies to learn--fruits, articles of clothing, transportation types, and lots and lots of animals: farm animals, pets, wild animals, baby animals, and of course, the aforementioned bird page. that page doesn't have quite the same everyday-vocabulary vibe as the others, but it does introduce tots to this little australian species, the kookaburra:

i could not have identified this bird, but someday dylan will. i did teach her the song, which she loves:

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree,
Merry merry king of the bush is he.
Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, Kookaburra,
How gay your life must be!

something tells me they don't teach that one in school anymore.

you know what else they probably don't teach in public school? the johnny appleseed song that we sang as grace every day before snack in kindergarten:

Oh, the Lord's been good to me.
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need:
The sun, the rain and the appleseed;
Oh, the Lord's been good to me.

it's really a lovely little grace, and i'll probably teach it to dylan, too. my teacher was old as well as old-school; she also paddled naughty students. well, she spanked at least one misbehaved kid on several occasions, and looking back, i'm sure he had some undiagnosed developmental problems. much has deteriorated in education and culture over the years, but that is one reason to be thankful to not be sending my child to school in the eighties.

there are a few other songs i learned in school that i probably won't teach dylan:

Gonna jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton
jump down, turn around, pick a bale a day (2x)
Oh Lordy, pick a bale of cotton
oh Lordy, pick a bale a day (2x)

isn't there something more than a little unsettling about a classroom full of suburban white kids bouncing around singing about how fun it is to pick 500 lbs of cotton in a single day?

then there's this little creeper:

Have you seen the ghost of John?
Long white bones with the skin all gone
Oooh, O0hO0hO0hO0hO0h
Wouldn't it be chilly with no skin on?

um, yeah, i guess it would be chilly without skin, but that's only the beginning of your problems. what the heck kind of freakshows taught me music?

do you remember any crazy childhood songs they're probably not teaching anymore?


michelle said...

hahahaha...this post is hilarious.

no creepish songs have come to mind yet, but i'll be thinking on that one...

Anonymous said...

I can't remember any songs. However, I thought you would find it interesting that at my kids daycare (public mind you) they actually say grace at every meal and snack and use the word God in it with no parents complaining. I was stunned when my son came home singing it one day.


Jenney said...

We sang one...can't remember all the words but someone got hit over the head with a rolling pin. LOVING your blog. Left a note about your Jesus picture a few posts ago :o)

Anonymous said...

When I was in grammar school in the early 1950s we sang Stephen Foster songs from the mid-nineteenth century. Two in particular I recall, Old Uncle Ned, and Old Black Joe, are in retrospect so blatantly racist almost beyond belief. I just looked them up to refresh my memory. The version of Old Uncle Ned that we sang is only slightly less offensive, substituting "darkey" for the N word. Hard to believe now on this side of history, but as eight or nine year olds we had no idea there was anything wrong with these songs, and I don't think our teachers did either.

Debbie said...

I often sub in music classes and they are not teaching these songs. It always makes me sad.

Penny said...

LOL! My Mum (Australian) used to sing us that Kookaburra song. I think they do sing it still but have substituted the gay word. She also used to sing us a song about a little aborigine and how all he needed to know was how to chase rabbits and swim in the billabong. Bet that one is on the banned list! :-) The Australian national anthem used to say "Australia's sons let us rejoice"... my Dad was much amused to discover that it has now been changed to "Australians all let us rejoice" now. ;-)

I noticed at Tim's school concert that the Christmas Carols they sing are the more secular ones these days. That's sad. In fact, singing seems to be done to CDs rather than with the teacher conducting/someone playing the piano. I think that is kind of sad too... CDs are easier but there is something special about seeing somebody making music and singing along to it. IMHO.

Dorothy said...

I grew up going to the San Diego zoo, where they have a bronze kookabura statue near one of the aviaries. We would always find it, and then my mom would sing the kookabura song. It remains one of my favorite things to find and do at the zoo with Liam today.

Thanks for bringing back a fantastic memory.

bethany said...

well theres..
"ring around the rosey, pockets full of posies, ashes ashes we all fall down"
which has racially disparaging roots

then there's three blind mice- she'll cut of their tails with a carving knife, really? a little graphic if i do say so myself.

also, i remember a certain kindergarden teacher being particularly harsh towards a kid with learning disabilities in my class too! boo! no spankings though...she got nicer with age...

Leeanne said...

"come on baby, ride my pony"

it's like a song and a game in one

lauren debo said...

the whole collaging on canvas is such an awesome idea suz! if you do indeed make one for yourself you better post a picture of it cause i'd love to see! :-D .

Anonymous said...

Coming late to this party, but the kookaburra drew me in; did I mention my family's from Australia? They do still sing the Kookaburra song in the Aussie schools.

Creep factor song for my would have to be "Ring around the rosy" which refers to the bubonic plague; people carrying posies (flowers) to ward of the stench of illness; ashes the near death bodies facial color.

And my son also sang "Have You Seen the Ghost of John?" in his school, but then again we live in a small town that in many respects seems to be about 30+ years behind the rest of the country.

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