"The Banks of the Ohio" – a strange lullaby…

Do you still sing lullabies for your little ones ?
I will just assume you do. Anybody should sing, at any age. No matter how.
Everybody should sing to and with children.
motherbirdSo I come from a musical family and it came instinctively to me to sing some soft and gentle song to my newborn right from the first time I held him in my arms. (Ok, maybe the next morning because the first day my voice was a bit off from all the screaming with all that pain…)

Now, to start off, like most of us I guess, I would sing the old tunes that my mother sang to me and here I was, humming traditional German lullabies.
I had to read up some lyrics, but, cradling my bundle of happiness, it was total bliss.
A few months down the line, going to sleep still was a little bit of an issue to say the least, and singing these same old songs over and over again would have given me a serious headache. Not to mention that I had in the meantime figured out that my son fell asleep almost instantly on “white noise” from the radio…
But my bedtime routine (battle) still included a lot of singing.
I extended the repertory.

First, as an expat,  I added the most common French ‘berceuses’, with the help of my local nanny (i was working back then).
Yeah, jolie et tout, but nothing very exiting here either.
I soon moved on to singing whatever slow and sweet song or ballad I could think of, folk songs, shanties, blues, you could say my son was doing the full Baby Einstein experience at bedtime.  (I’ll be back on that!)

One of those random songs was “Banks of the Ohio”. A very melodic US traditional, written by no one in special, interpreted and recorded by many. Now I must say to my defence that most probably I have learnt this song when – to my mother’s pride and delight – I was the angel-like preteen voice to my brother’s guitar playing..around 1980? Before I learnt English too.


Johnny cash may or may not have sung it in Folsom Prison.

I always only remembered the first verse. The lyrics were a bit odd but it allows fun variations for a female voice. I go for it pretty ‘country’ most times.  “I asked my looooooove, to take a waaaaalk…” and so forth. Well.

I recently started singing it again. My son now really likes it!  We are almost getting a real polyphony going  but also have a lot of fun with all the ‘loooove’ stuff. He figured out some ‘actions’ (gestures) to accompany the words.
But..we still only sing the first verse and those of you that may know the song, would know why. It’s not really a love song.
It’s a murderer’s ballad.
Yep. Maybe as a teen, he’ll think it’s kinda cool. But now he’s 5…

Wikipedia about “the banks of the Ohio” (with lyrics)
Olivia Newton-Johns version on youtube
Article on how popsongs replace lullabies (askamum.co.uk)

Have you taught your kids any weird songs at a somewhat inappropriate age or did your toddler pick up on some uncensored rudeness that came on the radio ? I have more examples (worse?), I can’t be alone with this?


2 thoughts on “"The Banks of the Ohio" – a strange lullaby…

  1. Raven

    My daughter (5 years) looooves Lady Gaga which is probably horribly innapropriate (Bad Romance is her favorite) but…meh. We haven’t gotten any rude notes from school. Guess we are pretty laid back parents which may come back to bite us in the butt…still at the moment she is better behaved than the stricter parents I know…so we shall see.

    1. kaykay

      lol, we like that one too. well, it’s not like they ‘understand’ ‘i want your ugly, i want your disease’ 😀
      i avoid watching the videos, they can get tricky to explain sometimes, but when it comes to modern music, my son listens to – and sings – so much inappropriate stuff, i could have an entire blog about it. at this age they’re already finetuning the use of ‘bad words’ quite well i think, don’t worry..yet.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s