Saturday, October 06, 2007

I gave my love a story... that haaaad noooo ennnnnd...

You know the scene in Animal House where Bluto Blutarsky (or whatever) comes down the stairs at a party and there's some dude strumming an acoustic guitar, soulfully crooning
"I gave my love a cherry
That had no stone,
I gave my love a chicken
That haaaad nooooo booooooone..."
and Bluto grabs the guitar, smashes it on the stairs, and hands it back with a muttered "sorry"?
At least that's how I remember that scene.

Well, I always thought that song was a joke, part of the genius of the script (another gem is the headline: "Sophomore Dies in Kiln Explosion.")

Turns out, as I was blissfully unaware until recently, it isn't. It's an actual for-real song, that real people sing. Incredibly, this can be done with a straight face. Just not by me.

I learned this because Peanut and I take a music class Wednesday mornings while Bean is in school. Each 10-week session comes with a CD of a reasonably pleasant mix of songs in different styles for the kiddos to learn. So I unwrap the new CD, pop it in, and what to my horrified ears should appear but this damn tune, in all its sincere, saccharine splendor. And I can't help but also hear the satisfying crunch of an acoustic guitar being smashed mid-verse.

Sadly, the Bean heard the song in the car today and has decided it is "soooooo beautiful." She sings it constantly, and... well... the kid can't carry a tune in a bucket.

I have the mental guitar smash going on infinite loop.


  1. I am very lucky in that Liv never really got too attached to children's songs, especially insipid ones.

    She liked classical right from the get go and now it is my humiliation to often listen to music with her on the way to school and I will say, "Well, isn't that pretty?" and she will reply that that was a sonata by Orvacini or a lullaby from Brahms. And I am just wearing a big dunce hat.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. OK, not to defend the "insipid," but the former English major in me can't help but note that, as dopey as it might sound when sung in "Animal House" or on a tape of children's songs, the "cherry" song is actually a very old one, its origins probably going back to the days of Middle English (Chaucer and all that). It's a love song (sort of) in the venerable "riddling" tradition. ("Scarborough Fair" is another example, of similar vintage.) The lyrics are meant to be playful, not sugary.

    Another way to put it: the joke (hitching nonsense lyrics to a profoundly pretty melody) is deliberate. The joke in "Animal House," in turn, is that the earnest college singer doesn't get it: he sings it straight. By smashing his guitar, Bluto actually rescues the song. (Which in turn is a neat metaphor for the whole movie.)

    (And forgive the deleted comment - I wanted to edit a few words in this post, and didn't see another way to do it...)

  4. Well that makes sense.

    Maybe the Bean is rescuing the song then, too. My little Bluto :).

  5. Stopped through, read some, liked it. LOL at the acorn and the tea.