My mother sang. All the time.
As a result of this, I sing. All the time.
As a result of that, Jude sings. All the time.
I'm not saying that any of us are/were amazingly good singers, we're just enthusiastic and...vocal.
Mama was a product of the Big Band era. Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Guy Lombardo, Glenn Miller. This was the music of her youth. She dreamed of being the "girl singer" with a band.
This was the music that Mama sang to me. She had a collection of records which she liked to play when she cooked and cleaned, which was often. Because of this, I've always had a pretty serious knowledge of old standards and the music of World War II, much more than most kids my age. Remember that Mama was pushing 40 when she had me, so her music was the music of most of my friends' grandparents' generation. I was probably one of a handful of girls from the disco era who knew all the words to Jo Staffords songs, much less knew who Jo Stafford was.
Mama had an album of Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians which I used to listen to all the time. I'd get a hairbrush and use it as a microphone as I sang the "girl singer" parts.
I loved all of it. It was just such good music. I thought it was...cool. I loved it when I was 17 and I got to choose this as a solo for a choir concert...
Mama also loved to share her love of the music that her father sang to her. Apparently, he sang all the time also. She particularly loved the music of George M. Cohan. I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy, Over There, Give My Regards To Broadway - she taught them all to me, and we sang them together all the time, taking turns harmonizing.
So I guess it's fitting that I've taught Jude the music from my youth. I've written here before about Jude's peculiar love and knowledge of old rock and roll, and my concern that I've done him a disservice by not making him listen to at least some of the music other children of his generation listen to. But now that I think about it, I don't think Mama did any kind of a disservice to me by teaching me a love of Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hart and Duke Ellington and George M. Cohan. It's all just good music.
The other day, I picked Jude up from school, and as we were driving home, he started singing from the backseat...
"I'm a Yankee Doodle dandy, a Yankee Doodle do or die, the real live nephew of my Uncle Sam, born on the Fourth of July..."
"Jude, how do you know that song?" I gasped.
Turns out his former 3rd grade science teacher, Mrs. Cool (best teacher name EVER) had stepped in as his substitute music teacher that day, and had brought along her George M. Cohan songbook!
"Mrs. Cool says that George M. Cohan was like the Justin Bieber of his day!" said Jude.
Smart lady, that Mrs. Cool.
We proceeded to sing You're a Grand Old Flag and Over There all the way home. Jude was impressed by my savantlike knowledge of Cohan lyrics, and I was impressed that my child was singing the music not of his generation or my generation or even my mother's generation, but of HER father's generation.
"You know, Mom," said Jude, "that George M. Cohan really knew how to write a song. Those songs are catchy! It's just good music."
Damn, I love my kid.
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