Monday, August 10, 2009


See you in September
see you when the summer's through
here we are saying goodbye at the station
summer vacation is taking you awaaaayyyyy

I am singing to the (really) oldies station at the top of my lungs. Lilly asks, "Is this a really old song?"
"Yes it is. Why do you ask?"
"Because you actually know the words to it."

Oh dear. Am I that bad? Yes, yes I am . The thing is, if it is an old song (from my childhood) I have it stuck in my head for all eternity. If it is a somewhat old song (from high school and college) I can remember most of the words. Anything more "recent" and by that I mean in the past 2 and half decades, and all bets are off.

But I always remember what the song is about. I remember the gist of a line if not the actual words. Which is why you will often here me singing something like this:

Billy Jean is not my lover
I am not really the father
I had sex with her but check my DNA
You have to believe what I say

The kids either roar with laughter or cover their ears. They don't get it. They hear a song once or twice and remember every word. In the actual order in which it comes! This astounds me. As Atticus once said, "Mom, you know all the words to the songs, you just don't know where they go." EXACTLY! And shouldn't I get credit for that?

Of course they don't get it. They have freakishly plastic brains that recall everything. I noticed this the other day when Lilly was singing along to the theme song of a show called The Big Bang Theory. She has only heard this song when the show is on and we have only watched it, maybe, ten times. Here you can listen to this song and imagine for a second how long it would take you to memorize the words well enough to sing along.

Music is stored in our brains in a weird way isn't it? I can't remember my children's names in the proper order ("Grace! Atticus! Lilly! Molly! Oh christ, whatever your name is, get in here and pick up your shoes!") but the other day I remembered that show "Room 222" and could instantly hum the theme song. It has no lyrics but I'm sure I would rememember them if it did just as I know all the words to the "Here Comes the Brides" (the bluest skies you'll ever see in Seattle) and that ridiculous Bobby Sherman song, Julie, Julie, Julie. Geez what a waste of brain cells.

Anyhoo, I leave you all with that thought today--at what point did you stop learning lyrics to songs just by being exposed to them? Hopefully it was somewhere further down the line than it was for me as I do not remember much past the disco age.

Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it
Cause it took so long to bake it....



  1. I started listening to mostly instrumental music in the early nineties.

  2. I remember my mother often singing Doris Day's 'Que Sera, Sera'. She only sang songs we couldn't check the lyrics of anyway.

  3. I did learn the words to "All Star" by Smash Mouth, but that was 10 years ago, so to answer your question -- it must be at age 40 that we stop. But I can still remember the words to American Pie -- and better yet, my teenager has learned them too. Ann C.

  4. ...and I'll never have that recipeeeeeeeeeeee agaiiiiiiiiiiiin!!!


  5. It has taken me thirty years to understand those lines about that cake. I still don't get it, why make such an emotional song about a cake?

  6. "And the hills are the greenest green in Seattle..."-- waste of brain cells indeed. My kids shock me in just the same way, mostly while we're playing guitar hero. Just because I can sing all the lyrics to the songs by the Who and the Doors and whatnot, they think I'll be able to do the same with things from the past 2 years. No indeed. Yet they have all the words to Psycho Killer after two times on Rock Band. Verses in order.