Are you singing the right lyrics to the songs you learned as a kid? I love to hear children sing. If the words aren’t quite the ones I remember, that doesn’t matter. They sing with their hearts and I can hum along, but do I remember the lyrics?
For the life of me, I cannot remember the lyrics to Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I obviously made up some words as a kid and that is how I remember it. Though sometimes, my curiosity (or the funny looks of my grandchildren) will cause me to find the original lyrics to some of my favorites.
The Library can come to the rescue for lots of those songs especially in the Easy section. We can find Home On the Range edited by Barbie H. Schwaeber. It is based on a poem written by a Kansas homesteader, Dr. Brewster M. Higley. Others have tried to take credit for it and have tried to change the words. Ranchers, farmers and cowboys adopted the song as an unofficial anthem for the American West. Kansas adopted it as their state song. But how did it get to be so well known?
The story behind a song can be a lot of fun. Another book by the same title, Home On the Range: John A. Lomax and His Cowboy Songs by Deborah Hopkinson tells how as a young man, John went out with an old-fashioned recording device in the early 1900s to capture songs that were sung by cowboys. Then he wrote them down for us. He went out again later in life and captured more songs. Many of his recordings of singing cowboys are stored at the Library of Congress. I bet those cowboys would be surprised to know their voices live on in such a prestigious place!
Take Me Out to the Ball Game by Jack Norworth is another unofficial anthem. Baseball games would not be the same without this song even though we only sing one of the three verses. How many of us know the words to the other two?
To help us remember songs from our youth, the Library has a wonderful selection of DVDs called Sentimental Sing-Alongs. Their topics range from patriotic to romance and from locations all over the country.
We do grow up and discover new songs and with them singers who become favorites. Some write their own music and others have lyricists that create the words for them. There are those who redo an old classic with their own personality by changing up the music, but the lyrics live on.
Lyrics catch attention so they’re often used as titles like in these books owned by the library: