Monday, October 23, 2006

Songs for a little girl

When we were expecting our first child, one of the things we did was play music for the her in the womb. We have a little speaker that can be strapped around the waist, positioned over the child, and any form of media player attached though the headphone jack. (Trust me, it works considerably better that just putting headphones on the belly.) It limits play time in one sessions to around 8 minutes (to ensure that the baby is not over-exposed to sound waves), but is a wonderful way to begin exposing a child to music. We played all kinds of music for Little Euphrony before she was ever born, letting her hear all styles of music to establish her "ear".

To accompany this, being a very musically inclined person, I put together a CD of music especially selected for her listening pleasure. They were songs that meant (and still mean) a great deal to me from various genres that I wanted to share with my child. Even after she was born, I would play this for her, often singing along, as I rocked her to calm her when she was upset or in the car to continue to give her music that with which she had become familiar. I bring this up because I am reworking this CD for our new baby, due in four months, to give him the same exposure and share with him, as well, my deep love of music.

Here are the songs on the original CD for Little Euphrony, along with some of my thoughts on why they were included. When Baby Euphrony's CD is compiled, I will add that final list. My only basic limitation in musical selection was and is the aforementioned eight-minute listening time limit. Oh, yeah, I don't want anything on the CD that I would not listen to. Or anything that would make the baby do flips and wonder if the world was ending (so, it tends to be a bit more easy-listening music).

  1. Aaron Copland - "Fanfare for the Common Man"
    I dare you to name a composer who better captures the heart of Americans than Copland. Go ahead, try. "Fanfare", in its grandiose movement, pulls the strings in our hearts that have been attuned over the centuries to believe that we are meaningful, that we can accomplish things seemingly impossible, that we are more than a simple collection of cells but are of value. Listening to this, you sit up a little straighter, puff your chest out a bit, and in general just feel pretty good.

  2. Rich Mullins - "Awesome God"
    The most important thing Mrs. Euphrony and I want to share with our children is our faith. "Awesome God" came out around the time I really started listening to CCM music, and hearing it affected me. It still affects me, as it seems to affect so many others. We have evidenced before us - in nature, in scripture, and in one another - the work of El Shaddai, God Almighty, and of Yahweh tsaba, the LORD of the hosts of armies. It is good to remember this.

  3. Benny Goodman - "Sing Sing Sing"
    Okay, so I've got a little swing in my heart. This is a toe-tapping song that even people who are not fans of Big Band music know and like. I remember the first time I ever heard it, on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, sometime in the early '80s. Doc Severinsen and the band were given one of their rare chances to fill time with a number of their own, and they played this. The number was interrupted by breaking news of a major earthquake, so I didn't hear the whole song at that time; but, the pounding of the drums, blaring horns, and amazing clarinet have to this day never left my head.

  4. Steve Camp - "He Covers Me"
    For me, this song is a confessional. All to frequent are the times when I know of God but do not know God. Steve Camp, never one to soft-peddle the gospel, sings in this song one verse after another; he defines what is it to find strength in our weakness, to rest in the hand of Jehovah, to have hope (an upcoming blog topic) and to endure. If there is something I want my children to know, everyone to know, it is the comfort of shelter in our Lord.

  5. Mark Knopfler - "Once Upon a Time . . .Storybook Love"
    "Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam... And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva... So tweasure your wuv." I love The Princess Bride, and the music from it is so engaging. Mark Knopfler scored this movie on the condition that the hat Rob Reiner wore in This is Spinal Tap appear in the movie at some point. For those of you who do not recognize the name of Mark Knopfler, you will surely recognize his voice as he leads Dire Straits singing such classics as "Money for Nothing (I Want My MTV)" and "Sultans of Swing". He has a great mastery of music in many styles, and the theme "Storybook Love" showcases some of this. By the way, if you like the movie, read the book by William Goldman sometime - its even better.

  6. Rich Mullins - "Sometimes by Step"
    Only three artists made double hits on this CD, and Rich Mullins is one of those. "Sometimes by Step" is another one of his iconic pieces, now a ubiquitous piece of modern worship music. But for me, the best memory is hearing my little girl, still trying to master basic speech, singing "Oh God . . . are God . . . I . . . praise you" as this song played. One of my best memories ever.

  7. Glen Miller - "Moonlight Serenade"
    Again, I love big band music, and Glen Miller helped define what is Big Band. A soothing song to hear, "Moonlight Serenade" is one of my favorites from Glen Miller, and it fit the mood perfectly to go at Number 7 on this CD.

  8. Glad - "And Can It Be"
    Glad released there first of many a capella projects in 1988, and on it they performed versions of several classic hymns. "And Can It Be" (or "Amazing Love") was one of those that struck me from the moment I first heard their singing. Glad is a talented group, both with instruments and without, and their five- and six-part harmonies are gorgeous. Beautiful sounds and lyrics, all together, cannot be passed by.

  9. Wayne Watson - "Friend of a Wounded Heart"
    This is one of those songs that has such a deep history with me that words can barely describe how it has spoken to me and moved me over the years. Wayne Watson has fallen out of the CCM spotlight in recent years, but he did and does make powerful music. In hearing this song, I wanted my daughter to know that faith is a journey. I wanted her to know that this journey has a destination; though the road be hard, there is rest and redemption. There is healing. There is a high priest "who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin."

  10. Enya - "A Day Without Rain"
    The album of which this song is the title track became very popular in the USA after Septebmer 11th. There is a good reason for that. Enya's music is, for the most part, calming. It conveys peace; peace that we seek so earnestly but never seem to grab hold of when it is found. This song is one that lets you sit back, close your eyes, and picture that perfect, cloudless day.

  11. The King's Singers - "The Oak and the Ash"
    Not very well known in the States, The King's Singers are one of the worlds best vocal groups. Their membership includes, I believe, three or four people with perfect pitch and one man who is a countertenor (basically, a man naturally born with a vocal range more similar to a soprano). Being a country boy who at times wishes he could leave city life forever and retreat to the star-filled night sky of the country, this song speaks to me. It tells of the longing of one who had "strayed" to London but longed to return to the north country.

  12. David Meece - "My Father's Chair"
    A few years ago KSBJ, here in Houston, had their 20th anniversary concert. It featured a large number of artists, most of whom were given time for only two songs and a hasty retreat from the stage. David Meece was one of these artists. Rather than singing two songs, he spent the first half of his time telling about his relationship with his father. His father, the drunkard. His father, the abusive man. His father, absent for much of his life. His Father, who teaches him where his earthly father failed. His Father, who comforts and calls him. He then sang this song. I had loved the song for years before this event, but I was able to see the impact it had on those there. In the song, David Meece spends one verse talking about the his father's chair "covered with sheets and gloom", one verse talking about his own chair as a father, which he hopes his children will remember as sitting "in a loving room", and one verse about his Father's chair which "holds glory beyond the tomb". As a parent, I have always aspired to have a chair not like the first verse but like that in the second.

  13. Newsong - "Arise, My Love"
    Newsong was another of those artists that was one of the first I discovered when I first was listening to CCM. Their song "Light Your World" was almost in this place, one of the first songs to encourage me to do something with this religion of love I professed. But instead, I ended up selecting "Arise, My Love" for its storytelling and the hope it builds in my heart (I return to this topic of hope). The chorus is rather anthemic, you find you cannot help but join in singing God's call to His Son to arise, break the binding of the grave, and bring life.

  14. Enya - "Pilgrim"
    The second of the artists to find multiple purchase on this compilation, Enya is among my long-time favorite New Age artists. This song, also off the album A Day Without Rain, fits what I like most about music, movies, stories, whatever. It tells the story of a journey, as a pilgrim, seeking answers that may never be known but finding out that it is what is lived in the journey that makes answers the questions. I want my children to ask questions, I want them to be inquisitive not just in their youth but as they grow older. Most especially, I want them to question God; but as pilgrims, I want them to question God while listening for His answers.

  15. Michael W. Smith - "The Throne"
    Part of his earlier music, "The Throne" is a depiction of, well, God on His throne. Not very complex, but emphasizing honoring God and the hope we find in that glorious day we gather round His seat in heaven.

  16. David Meece - "We Are the Reason"
    The final artist to be doubly-chosen on this CD was David Meece. As I implied with "My Father's Chair", he writes powerful music. This one, often pigeon-holed as a Christmas song, speaks another lesson I want my children to know in their bones, and one I need to be reminded of regularly. It is the "milk" of the gospel, and though we need "meat" to grow we also need to continue taking the "milk" as our foundation. Jesus died for us, so that we might live. Our sins, our unrighteous acts, our rebellion is why He came and why He died. The gift was not in His coming, but in His death and His return.

  17. Hans Zimmer & Stephen Schwartz - "When you Believe"
    From The Prince Of Egypt soundtrack, this song is my favorite. As I write these descriptions, I find myself to be running low on words; but, in short, it is the hope that is espoused in the lyrics, that when you believe and peservere in God, your hopes will be met. "Though hope is frail, its hard to kill . . ." I believe this, and cling to a hope I try to instill in my family and my friends.

  18. Take 6 - "Let the Words"
    I was looking for a closer for the CD, and was running very short on space (so it had to be a short song or none at all). It occurred to me that Take 6 had already provided a wonderful closer, and it was a short song. "Let the Words" simply says that that which overflows from my heart be in accordance with God's will. Let my words bring Him praise. Enough said.

What do you think? What are some songs you might use? I know that several of these songs will not stick around for Baby Euphrony's CD, as I have found other songs that have impacted me greatly in the four years since I made this one, but many of them will remain.

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Seth Ward said...

Great list and Heck Yes I know the Kings Singers. I have heard them in concert a few times. They also did a great Beatles cover album that I love.

euphrony said...

I seem to remember that the King's Singers were here in Houston somewhat recently. I almost used their verson of "Blackbird" for this CD. Of all the people reading this, Seth, you were the one I figured would know who they are.

Seth Ward said...

Blackbird is just beautiful. I was just telling my ear-training class today about that recording. I also really like their version of "Short People"

euphrony said...

I've seen a video of a concert they did back in the '80s. They performed "Short People" while ragging on their own short person. Funny song, and a good take on it. They do try to cover a range of styles, including some interesting art pieces.

I'm guessing, from the lack of response, that either no one else reading this either knows of The King's Singers or does not like their music. Sad in both cases.

euphrony said...

I just glanced at their website. Under their list of recordings, they show 99 records in the last nearly 40 years. A couple of compilations in there, but that is a lot of recording.

Chaotic Hammer said...

Nice song collection.

I think I've heard of the King's Singers, but couldn't really tell you anything they did.

euphrony said...

Here is the new baby's CD:
1 The Lighthouses Tale-Nickel Creek
2 Sometimes By Step-Rich Mullins
3 Fisher Of Men-Wes King
4 He Covers Me-Steve Camp
5 Sing Sing Sing-Benny Goodman
6 The Light On The Hill-Máire Brennan
7 Friend Of A Wounded Heart-Wayne Watson
8 You are the New Day-The King's Singers
9 My Father's Chair-David Meece
10 Your Love Is Extravagant-Casting Crowns
11 Be Thou My Vision-Glad
12 Pennsylvania 6-5000-Glen Miller
13 Awesome God-Rich Mullins
14 A Day Without Rain-Enya
15 That's What Amazes Me-Go Fish
16 Copland:Fanfare For The Common Man-Aaron Copland
17 My Heart Will Sing-Silers Bald
18 Once Upon A Time...Storybook Love-Mark Knopfler
19 Prayer for This Child [Demo Version]-Sara Groves

Anne said...

Well, I got sidetracked..."The gift was not in His coming, but in His death and His return." AMEN!

It is quite apparent that music means a lot to you. Are you a musician of any kind? A singer/songwriter?

I played my guitar and sang a lot during my pregnancies - until it became too difficult.

euphrony said...

Music is vital in my life. Everything has a soundtrack in my life - there is always a song that I end up associating with a moment. I'm not a professional musician; at the moment there is no instrument that I play actively (unless you count the times I pick up my daughters recorder to play her a song). I have played piano, a little guitar when I was young, and I played percussion instruments for many years. I can write prose, but poetry of any type is beyond me, as is putting it to music. I sing all the time, was in choir in school and took voice lessons for a little while. I know the basics of music theory.

Yeah, music is in my bones.

Chris said...

Hi Jason - very randomly I came across your blog today. I am a current member of the King's Singers, and can promise you that we are still very much alive and kicking! In fact, we're in the US at the moment and are doing three concerts in Texas next week, in Lubbock, Houston and College Station. Details on our website -

Your baby CD sounds awesome, and has a lot of artists on that I also love. Good choice with your KS song, too, "The Oak and the Ash" is one I love to sing. If you make it to one of the concerts I'll try to get us to sing it for you and your family....

All best wishes to you,


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