March 29, 2011

What Was Your Cradle Music?

Recently, Apple celebrated the release of The Beatles catalogue on iTunes by filling the screen with a big picture of the lads from Liverpool.

Just seeing them pop up like that, so unexpectedly, led to a lump-in-throat moment.

I love them. I can't quite put my finger on why I feel so emotional about the Beatles, but there it is. Love me do? I do, I do! Cute Paul, Dreamy George, Edgy John, Funny Ringo. And the music? Sheer brilliance. I mean who else do you know could get a chart-topping hit out of the lyrics "I am the eggman, they are the eggmen, I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob"?

The only explanation I can think of for my deep, unconditional, completely irrational love of the Beatles, is that their songs were my cradle music.

My teenaged parents, having taken a tumble in the back of a car on summer holidays followed by a hastily arranged (but lovely and ironically reverent, with altar boys and everything) wedding, decided to name the resulting daughter, moi, after a song from the Beatles Rubber Soul album. It could have been much worse; Tom Jones released Delilah that same year. And how lucky for me to be born to teenagers in the 60s and not today, although Mi$helle has a nice look to it, non?

As a small child I spent hours on hot Saturday nights lying on the cool linoleum floor just inside my bedroom, peeking out through the door into the room where my parents and their friends (still only in their 20s I'm amazed to reflect on now) danced and sang the night away to an endless stream of EPs on the record player, my father swinging my mum around to Elvis and Johnny O'Keefe, Frankie Valli and Gene Pitney. A particular favourite of Dad's, Lovers Concerto by The Toys, became an anthem for my childhood. I still love it and it evokes memories of those Saturday nights gazing at my happy dancing parents when the frustrations of raising three children on a single wage in the 1970s melted away in a wash of moselle and paisley halternecks and doing the twist in a suburban Melbourne lounge room. The nights always ended in a loud and boozy singalong to Unchained Melody.

When Jack was in utero, John was having a love affair with Unchained Melody and played it loudly in the car on every single car trip for months towards the end of my pregnancy. Despite, at the time, wanting to take those lonely rivers and dam them, I had cause to be grateful to John because whenever Jack was unsettled in the car, we only had to release the lonely rivers to the sea and he would shut up and listen.

Jack has since moved on, latching on to certain songs from our own collections. And when Jack loves a song, we all get to hear it many, many times to the point where a previously favoured tune is at risk of having the same effect of nails dragged down a blackboard. We have had, on rotation ad nauseum, everything from Rock The Boat (Hues Corporation) and Big Girls Don't Cry (Frankie not Fergie) to Apple Bottom Jeans and Super Trouper. And of course there are the endless round of lullabies we still sing every night - Gordon Lightfoot and tunes from My Fair Lady from Daddy, Morning Town Ride and a year-round Christmas medley from Mummy.

"Eclectic" doesn't even do this kid's musical tastes justice.

But he saves his best moves for his one true idol, the gloved one, he of the indecipherable lyric, Mr Michael Jackson. We don't even have to go out to get our groove on in this household cos once MJ is on the turntable we spend the night in Frisco, in every kind of disco, bedazzled by a cornucopia of crotch grabbing and moon walking.

I blame it on the boogie.

And now it's Francesca's turn. She will get the same off-key but enthusiastically sung lullabies as her siblings and will no doubt be moon-crawling in a few months. We put Big Girls Don't Cry on in the car for a joke once when she cried and she shut up and listened so that is now our fallback song in the car when she's crying say, in the queue at the drive-in bottle shop or in the car park of the pub while I duck in and drop ten bucks in the pokies.

Most nights she kicks and sucks her fists happily in her bouncer while I'm cooking dinner, the iPod on shuffle, imbibing her musical heritage - Blondie and Bowie, Lily Allen and Lenny Kravitz, Nick Cave and Nina Simone, Madonna and Missy, Rod and Robbie and yes, John, Paul, George & Ringo.

So how about you? Do you have a song or a style of music that always resonates with you, from when you were a child right through to your adulthood? Is there a song that, whenever you hear it, takes you back to a feeling or a memory of safety, warmth, a sense that you've come 'home'? Do tell.

I'll leave you with the lads and a song for John and my children. I will.

Image courtesy of iTunes


  1. Loved this post! I could write an entire blog post on this subject myself. :)

    I think my parents had me listen to classic 60's and 70's rock and Elvis. :)

  2. Then do it Dani! Was lots of fun to write and so easy to take a trip down memory lane on youtube. Have fun :)

  3. Enjoying your blogs Michelle, keep them coming. This one brought back many similar memories to me too. Lisa McNamara (nee Maher)

  4. Thanks Lisa! Is it really you? Wow, how long has it been?! Come to think of it, I think our mothers were probably Elvis's biggest fans. And you were named after Lisa Marie Presley from memory weren't you? We must try and catch up soon . . . xoxo

  5. Lovely to find your blog and see a bit of your story. I'm your newest follower. My parents embarrassingly were into classical music. I love them for it now ;) My kids are growing up on a pretty similar diet to yours by the looks of things.

  6. Thanks so much for following Sarah, and for your comment. We used to play classical music a bit before we had children - not sure why we don't now. Must dig out those old CDs and put them onto my iPod. Thanks for reminding me :)

  7. Yes Michelle, it is me, and no, at least I don't think I was named after the daughter of the King (spelling is different - Maree) Good memory on that point by the way!!. Anyway I myself am and always was a major Elvis fan too - must have rubbed off from mum. Would love to catch up sometime too although the Sydney/Melbourne thing might make it a bit tricky. Let me know when you are in Melbourne again. Lisa


I love hearing from you (and by the way, you're looking lovely today) x

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