Homecoming Songs: Age 0 – 13

Posted on August 16, 2012

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Country road, take me home | foto@me

“Homecoming” is meant quite literally here. I’m currently back in Sunny Singapura for 12 blissful days, and strangely, this trip has been a rather emotional one for me. Somehow I have managed to sashay jauntily across Shanghai (and etc) for the past 2+ years, tailfeather shaking and all, without missing – or indeed, thinking of – home too much. New places to go, new (bad) habits to acquire, and all that jazz.

But on this trip I’ve spent the past few days being decidedly maudlin and soppy. We all know what this means – it’s time to turn to music Youtube to relive the embarrassing old days and relieve the cake-needing soul. My cats will be pleased to get a break from all my weepy man-handling, anyway.

To commemorate this final homecoming, I delve into the deep, dark, buried recesses of my childhood musical influences. Apparently, I was a really, really, really weird kid.

“Le Cygne”, The Carnival of the Animals, Camille Saint-Saëns

Somehow, at the age of 9 or so, I got it into my head that I would like to be a ballerina. I was gloriously overweight, bespectacled, clumsy, and sported a Friar Tuck haircut, but I didn’t let that get in the way of my beautiful dreams. When I was 10, I persuaded the ‘rents to sign me up for ballet classes. The only available course at the shopping mall near my place was Beginner Ballet, target group 5 -6 years old. For 3 months, I bravely jeté-d, pirouetted and flapped my (large, flabby) arms in a crowd of tiny pretty little things in tiny pretty little tutus whilst their mothers heaved with laughter outside the glass windows.

So it didn’t work out, but I still love ballet. It’s pretty amazing that we get to see one of ballet’s greatest – possible the greatest – ballerinas on video more than 80 years after she performed The Dying Swan, which was choreographed specially for her, and frankly, is the stuff of legend.

Frank Sinatra, “Moon River”

The vid footage from the gorgeous Breakfast at Tiffany’s is almost a bit too much. I’m sure it’s not snarkiness/ sour grapes when I ask, is it ridiculous that Audrey Hepburn is so beautiful? It is, isn’t it? I mean IT’S NOT FAIR, ISN’T IT? Must be plastic surgery. (Why not me? Why?)

Still, I have to admit the song still chokes me up a bit. I have no idea why the pre-pubescent me would’ve identified with this song at all; I guess it was the magic of being one of two drifters, off to see the world.

Audrey’s performance of “Moon River”, incidentally, brought the composers Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer an Oscar for Best Song. It was actually written for her “limited vocal range” (1) in mind, which is obviously a GOLD move because then the rest of us can sob it into our beer mugs as well.

“Please Mr Postman” by The Carpenters

(It IS definitely snark when I wonder how much Disney paid them for this vid.)

As a kid, I loved the dreaminess and easy-listening of The Carpenters. Somehow I also knew from a really early age that Karen Carpenter died of anorexia. My dad was the one who told me this; I have no idea why, because insufficient food intake was patently not an ailment I was suffering from. Looking back, though, it is easy to see why I particularly liked “Please Mr Postman” – it’s fun, dancey and sweet.

“Please Mr Postman” was actually the 1961 debut single of Motown girls’ group The Marvelettes. You can marvelette it here.

Richard Marx, “Right Here Waiting”

Finally, an age-appropriate song! I must have developed hormones after all. Actually, my best friend in Primary School launched an ill-fated attempt to wow the School Talentime, and her pimply crush, with this tune, which was how I got introduced to it (over and over and over again).

There is also this delicious gem from Wikipedia (highlights, bold-face and manic giggling my own)

Music video

Three music videos were filmed for the song, although two were deemed “too sexual” in nature, and were shunned and banned by lobbyist before the release ever hit the public’s screens.[citation needed] Included in the first banned video was 42 second “softcore” sex scene, involving Marx and the love interest this song refers to.

The second video, was picked at with a fine-toothed comb. Complaints were made about every minor detail, including Marx briefly holding hands with a man, and the backup dancers clothing being “too tight”.[citation needed]

After the criticism, Marx’s producers denied any creative control to Marx, and ordered that he film a three minute sequence of him playing the piano, and became the music video for “Right Here Waiting”.[citation needed]

Dear Wikipedia, citations are most definitely NOT needed. Anyone can see it’s perfectly true. I would give anything to see the original mv where Marx engages in a 42-sec petting session, stopping for a brief homo-handhold, while asphyxiating dancers try to emote in the background.

And of course,

Guns N’ Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine”

The opening riff from lead guitarist Slash either sends shivers down your spine or invokes nauseating memories of bad KTV. I pause here myself to grimly reflect upon the recent experience of watching my pot-bellied ex-colleague squeal the chorus into a hapless microphone while vigorously doing the air guitar.

Why did I love this song as a kid? Stockholm Syndrome. An uncle who used to live with us blasted Guns N’ Roses at ear-bleeding volume every Sunday morning. He was either deaf or trying to drown out the hymn-singing from the church service next door. (His hearing is perfectly fine, last I checked.)

Anyhow, like so many great songs, that legendary guitar riff in “Sweet Child O’ Mine” came almost out of nothing. Slash noted, “It was more like me fucking around with the guitar.” (2)

So that brings us to the end of my pre-pubescent era. Teen-dom was even worse for me, both in terms of music and social skills. But that’s a story for another day!

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(1) Spoto, Donald. Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn. New York: Harmony Books, 2006. Page 204 – 205. (Thanks, Wiki.)

(2) Stix, John. “Slash – Guitar From The Gut”, Guitar For The Practicing Musician, Nov 1992. (Thanks, Meaning Behind Songs)