While I drive, the little girl in my life sings me some songs. In the middle of lyrics about, say, the wheels on the bus going round and round, she tosses in a line or two from adult songs she’s heard. Songs about heartache or other grown-up feelings. It’s always a surprise to hear which phrases resonate with her. A typical re-write goes like this:
“The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round.
And my heart misses you forever and I want you to come back right now.”
When she’s not singing, she tells me stories. She draws in a big breath, indicating something dramatic is about to occur, and begins,
“Awe duh sodden.”
It takes a couple of seconds to figure out the words, but her emphasis helps.
Ohhh. “All of a sudden…”
What follows are a whole bunch of sentences, spilling out in a rush, about three pigs or Belle from Beauty & The Beast, or Cinderella or Spiderman. She starts off fairly true to the version she’s heard, then changes direction and lays down a new plot point. Something like,
“And Cinderella stayed in the little house and the wuff couldn’t blow it down.”
Just as she’s hooked me with this twist, she announces,
I teach her songs from my own musical library. She likes a song to fit into a category. If you don’t clarify, she’ll ask what kind of song is this? On the way to school, I say,
“Let’s sing a morning song.”
She’s fine with that.
I start with a tune from Annie Get Your Gun (not too subtly trying to teach some Broadway tunes)
“Got no diamonds, got no pearls.
Still I think I’m a lucky girl.
I’ve got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
And with the sun in the morning and the moon in the evening, I’m all right.”
She can only take this much before the urge to re-write hits her. She says she will now sing that song for me. Away she goes, with an approximation of the melody and a new version of the lyrics,
“I don’t have any jewels. I’m not happy.”
Terse. To the point.
Irving Berlin it’s not, but it’s not bad either. With the pre-schooler rewriting, a Broadway show would be over in about 15 minutes.
Ó Anita Garner 2009