I Blame It All on the Old Man’s Lullabies

Anyone who regularly reads this blog knows that it’s rife with typos, misspellings, and undiscovered auto-corrects.

Who’s Whose fault is this you ask?

Not mine, damn it. I proofread several times.

Why then all the errors?

It’s because I’m almost as auditory as Ray Charles (minus the musical talent). I don’t see words, I hear them, and after a couple proof-readings, they completely disappear.

So you possess visual detail perceptual differences?

Yes, I’m a ducking imbecilic moronic retread when it comes to detecting typographic details, and I blame my father for this.


So you’re blaming your dead father for your own inability to focus on the arrangement of the Roman alphabet to insure its sequencing conforms to standard usage? Genetics are to blame then?

No, not genetics. By rocking me to sleep each night until I was pushing three, my father rewired my brain so that auditory images have stunted my capacity to process visual imagery. I’m a throwback to the Homeric ages, to the Skops of the Anglo-Saxons. I can recite poetry from memory like an iTunes playlist but can’t manage sometimes to find words like “initiatives” in a dictionary.

You poor man.

Oresteia -ChorusThere’s more. Not only did my father stunt my ability to process visual keys, his choice of lullabies created in me a tragic view of the world. We’re talking a heavy dose of Stephen Foster and a host of cowboy songs that are about as upbeat as your typical Greek chorus.

Here are few examples of Daddy’s standards.

He might start off with something like Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times Come Again No More”:

There’s a pale drooping maiden who toils her life away,

With a worn heart whose better days are o’er:

Though her voice would be merry, ’tis sighing all the day,

Oh! Hard times come again no more.

‘Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave,

‘Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore

‘Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave

Oh! Hard times come again no more.

jeanieAt least we don’t know the “pale, drooping maiden’s name” or the color of her hair, unlike in the plaintive “I Dream of Jeannie.”

Her smiles have vanished and her sweet songs flown,

Flitting like the dreams that have cheered us and gone.

Now the nodding wild flowers may wither on the shore

While her gentle fingers will cull them not more:

Oh! I sigh for Jeanie with the light brown hair,

Floating like a vapor, on the soft summer air.

Then there was the “Streets of Laredo”

“Then swing your rope slowly and rattle your spurs lowly,

And give a wild whoop as you carry me along;

And in the grave throw me and roll the sod o’er me.

For I’m a young cowboy and I know I’ve done wrong.”

“Go bring me a cup, a cup of cold water.

To cool my parched lips”, the cowboy then said.

Before I returned, his soul had departed,

And gone to the round up – the cowboy was dead.

We beat the drum slowly and played the fife lowly,

And bitterly wept as we bore him along.

For we loved our comrade, so brave, young and handsome,

We all loved our comrade, although he’d done wrong.


However, the song I remember that most haunted me was the pathetic and cruel “Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie.”

“I’ve always wished to be laid when I died

In a little churchyard on the green hillside

By my father’s grave, there let me be,

O bury me not on the lone prairie.”

“I wish to lie where a mother’s prayer

And a sister’s tear will mingle there.

Where friends can come and weep o’er me.

O bury me not on the lone prairie.”

“For there’s another whose tears will shed.

For the one who lies in a prairie bed.

It breaks my heart to think of her now,

She has curled these locks, she has kissed this brow.”

“O bury me not…” And his voice failed there.

But they took no heed to his dying prayer.

In a narrow grave, just six by three

They buried him there on the lone prairie.

And the cowboys now as they roam the plain,

For they marked the spot where his bones were lain[1],

Fling a handful o’ roses o’er his grave

With a prayer to God his soul to save.

By the way, any idea how you spell yippy-i-ti-aya?

[1] Not my fault, dammit: sic!

2 thoughts on “I Blame It All on the Old Man’s Lullabies

  1. I suppose you should be thankful he didn’t rock you to sleep with temperance songs:

    Out in the gloomy night sadly I roam;
    I have no Mother dear, no pleasant home.
    Nobody cares for me—no one would cry
    Even if poor little Bessie should die.
    Barefoot and tired, I’ve wandered all day,
    Asking for work, but I’m too small, they say;
    On the damp ground I must now lay my head:
    Father’s a drunkard, and Mother is dead!

    Mother, oh! why did you leave me alone,
    With no one to love me, no friends and no home?
    Dark is the night, and the storm rages wild,
    God pity Bessie, the drunkard’s lone child!

    We were so happy till Father drank rum;
    Then all our sorrow and trouble begun.
    Mother grew paler and wept every day.
    Baby and I were hungry to play.
    Slowly they faded, and one summer’s night
    Found their dear faces all silent and white.
    Then with big tears slowly dropping, I said:
    Father’s a drunkard, and Mother is dead!


    Oh! If the Temperance Men only could find
    Poor, wretched Father, and talk very kind,
    If they would stop him from drinking—why, then
    I should be so very happy again!
    Is it too late? Men of Temperance, please try,
    Or poor little Bessie may soon starve and die.
    All the day long I’ve been begging for bread:
    Father’s a Drunkard, and Mother is dead!


    • Believe me, Daddy would have, Joel, if he had known it. Here’s one of his non-lullaby favorites:

      Slap her down again, Pa,
      Slap her down again.
      We don’t want nobody
      Talkin’ ’bout our kin.

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