One of my more unsettling memories of Primary comes from an afternoon when I was perhaps four, and we were having Singing Time. The chorister couldn’t talk very loudly; she explained that she had a “frog in her throat.” I was horrified. I hadn’t realized that frogs might jump into people’s throats. I wondered how it would get back out, and I watched her anxiously.
Another image I found disturbing as a child came from the song “O, Susannah.” I’m not sure where I heard the song—maybe on one of the records we checked out from the public library. “I come from Alabama with my banjo on my knee,” sang the man. I had no idea what a “banjo” might be, but I imagined it as a kind of deformity growing on his knee, perhaps preventing him from walking. For this reason, I really didn’t care for this song.
Speaking of songs, I recall singing “Home on the Range” with the lyrics “where Seldom has heard / a discouraging word.” I thought that Seldom was a proper name, though I’m not sure I ever tried to figure out why he had heard a discouraging word. Eve, upon hearing my version, explained to me that “seldom” actually meant “not often.” I tried it out, singing to myself, “where not often is heard,” and was fascinated to see that it made sense.
It took me years to figure out what was going on with the song “Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree.” I knew it wasn’t actually popcorn, but I couldn’t figure out just what it was. I also had a hard time making sense of “Give, Said the Little Stream.” What did a stream have to do with giving?
Anyone else want to chime in?
- 22 November 2013