No Wrong Notes
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No Wrong Notes

365 Days of Song Recommendations: Jan 1

365 Days of Song Recommendations: Jan 1

Go Tell Aunt Rhody is the first song I think I can remember actually remembering.

I couldn’t have been much older than kindergarten age when I first heard it, and I was obsessed with it from the start—even somewhat haunted. The lyrics just felt so full of … meaning.

Go tell Aunt Rhody
Go tell Aunt Rhody
Go tell Aunt Rhody
The old gray goose is dead.

The first time I heard the song was when my elementary school music teacher played it in music class. She played it on the piano and sang it in her quintessentially nasal midwestern voice, and I think I just about drove her mad asking her to play it again and again, every class, for the rest of that year.

Why on earth an elementary school teacher would play her students such a horribly sad song in the first place, I can’t begin to guess …

The one she’s been saving
The one she’s been saving
The one she’s been saving
To make a feather bed

… but I can recall being so moved by the plainspoken tragedy of the lyric, and by the melody’s bittersweet simplicity.

The folk boom of the 60s may be partly to blame, as the song may have actually been a bit in vogue at the time, having been recorded and performed by, among others, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Peter, Paul, and Mary. Based on my listening, I’d say Pete Seeger’s version was the one that my music teacher was inspired by, so that’s the one I’m including for this list.

Old gander’s weeping
Old gander’s weeping
Old gander’s weeping
Because his wife is dead

While the song is widely understood to be an American folk song, there is evidence to suggest it originated with, of all people, Jean-Jacques Rousseau:

I’ve always cited the song as early evidence of my lifelong fascination with depressing songs, but I should probably note that my other favorite song from elementary music school class was The Pink Panther Theme by Henry Mancini—a decidedly less melancholic creation—which our teacher would play for us on her piano as we walked down the hall back to class.

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Preacher Boy

Preacher Boy

Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist , poet, writer. Vintage guitars, vintage typewriters, new Moleskines.

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