Until my child was old enough to demand music, I’d coast down the highway listening to NPR with my baby in the car seat. Once he learned the word for “music” – pronouncing it more like “MUZAAAAAAAAAC!” – all hope was lost.
Now, my only form of entertainment on long car rides comes from listening to, and overanalyzing, the morbid, misogynist, and just plain weird songs that comprise our modern-day cadre of children’s music.
Yes, they’re classics. N0, they’re probably not meant to be taken seriously. But how are our toddlers supposed to know that? What kinds of kooky subliminal messages are we sending them? Next time you’re listening to children’s music, listen closely and you’ll be sure to raise an eyebrow.
Take these songs, for example:
Oh My Darling Clementine
The offending lyric: “How I missed her, how I missed her, how I missed my Clementine, ‘til I kissed her little sister and forgot poor Clementine.”
The tone: Misogynist.
Clementine is the daughter of a miner who trips and dies at a young age. The singer, who implies that he was Clementine’s lover, is distraught. Until, that is, he goes and makes out with her litter sister instead, at which point he totally forgets about poor Clementine (whose body isn’t yet cold in the ground).
Somehow, this is supposed to convey a happy ending. And then we wonder why our kids grow up to have relationship issues.
The offending lyrics: ““Can she make a cherry pie, Billy Boy?” “Can she make a feather bed, Billy Boy?”
The tone: Misogynist.
The song centers on our protagonist, Billy, who seeks a wife. He finds a suitable candidate and goes home to share the good news. There, he proceeds to answer all of the “important” questions: her age, her cooking skills, and her ability to keep a clean house.
Can somebody please explain to me why dear Billy Boy is getting interrogated and harangued about the domestic capabilities of the woman he professes to be his true love? How am I supposed to raise a good little feminist when this crap is impossible to tune out?
Three Blind Mice
The offending lyric: “They all ran after the farmer’s wife, who cut off their tales with a carving knife.”
The tone: Morbid, weird, violent.
This is a short one, and we don’t get much background on the farmer’s wife. We just know that some mice are running around, and they piss her off, so she mutilates them.
In conclusion: be kind to animals, everybody!
Bill Grogan’s Goat
The offending lyric: “The man grabbed [the goat] by the back and tied him to a railroad track.”
The tone: Morbid, violent.
Can someone please explain to me what it is about children’s songs and abusing animals? In this song, Bill Grogan has a goat who eats some of his shirts. Good ol’ Bill decides to discipline the goat by arranging for the goat to get run over by a train, ignoring the animal’s “pleas of mortal pain.”
The moral of the story? If you mess with Mommy’s nice shirts, she’ll will cut you and ignore your screams. Mommy loves you!
The offending lyric: “And down will come baby, cradle and all.”
The tone: Morbid.
Call me superstitious, but I never sang this to my baby and always skipped over it when it showed up on a playlist. Why would I want to sing a song that treats a baby falling out of a tree as something precious?
Well, the baby fell out of the tree. THE END. No, thank you.