Monday, July 30, 2012

Go to sleepy, little baby: the backstory of a lullaby


Since my three children and two grandsons were tiny, I’ve been singing them a lullaby:

Go to sleepy, little baby
Go to sleepy, little baby
When you wake, we'll patty patty cake
And ride a shiny little pony

That was all I knew of the lullaby, which I could vaguely remember my mom singing to her own children and grandchildren. I found myself personalizing it:
Mommy loves her little Jonny (or Jussy, or Lizzie)
Mommy loves her little Jonny Mommy loves, she kisses and she hugs
Oh, Mommy loves her little Jonny…
I did the same with my grandchildren. I never thought they paid much attention to what I was singing as I rocked them to sleep.

But one time I was rocking Josiah, when he was very young, and I started singing the personalized verse. Suddenly, Payton, who was just a toddler, joined in, “Nana loves her little J.D. (our nickname for Josiah),” and sang it word perfect!

Obviously it had sunk in during the many times I rocked him to sleep. I loved it. :)

Where did it come from?

Well, the other day I got curious. Where had this lullaby originated? There was a “Go to sleepy little baby” in the movie, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, but it wasn’t the version I knew.

It took me just minutes to discover that the lullaby I know originated with TV host Judy Canova. It was the song she sang just before signing off of her show, back in the 1940's and early 50's. I even found some mp3s of the song…and lyrics! There are a lot more lyrics, and I plan to learn them.

If you're curious, here's a little clip of me singing a few lines of the song...

For me, this lullaby is the essence of my mother’s love for her children, and my own love for my children and grandchildren. As long as there’s a little one to rock to sleep, I’ll be singing it.

*Pictured are Tiffany Manning and her adorable baby girl, Gianna


Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

So sweet...I liked this post!

Anonymous said...

You have such a lovely, lovely voice! If I was a child and heard this...I'd begin to expect a pony!

Style Higher™ said...

So sweet! I used to make up silly lullabyes for my girls when they were little. Looking forward to the grandma ones. :-)

Athena said...

I am so glad you posted this. My dad used to sing this song to me as a baby and taught me to sing it to my daughter too. He passed away a few months ago and my daughter is only 18 months old, and I never knew where the song originated.

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