b Papa Dog's Blog: I Knew This Night Would Come

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

I Knew This Night Would Come

It’s only fairly recently that I’ve added my repertoire of night-night songs to Baby Dog’s Napster playlist, and they’ve quickly attained “most requested” status. That in itself is not unusual – any new addition, be it to playlist or bookshelf, is subjected to repeat scrutiny until she has its measure. But she has seemed to be paying particular attention to the Clancy Brothers’ live version of The Parting Glass and to the John Prine trilogy: Donald and Lydia, Souvenirs, and The Torch Singer.

More and more at bedtime Baby Dog will make a request of something that’s on her Napster playlist. The ABC song, say, or Itsy Bitsy Spider. I’ll gamely give it a go if I know the words, and she’s usually satisfied. Sometimes, she’ll clarify her request: “Itsy Bitsy? On the computer?” I tell her that the computer’s off and she has to satisfy herself with Daddy’s crappy voice, and she usually seems content with that. Sometimes she keeps after the idea, but I’ve generally taken that as a ploy to put off bedtime for a little bit. It never worked, but she seemed keen to keep trying until it did.

Tonight, when I asked Baby Dog what night-night song she wanted to hear, she made no reply. Every night for months she’s had some specific request. Not tonight. “How about Donald and Lydia?” I asked. We hadn’t sung that in a while, and we were running early for once. A longish song seemed in order. “On the computer?” she asked. “No,” I said, “the computer’s off. Daddy will sing Donald and Lydia.” “On the computer?” she persisted. “No, honey, computer’s off. We’re just going to sing night-night songs together, okay?” She didn’t say no, so I started singing the song.

Almost immediately, Baby Dog started to chatter about her piggy. This is not unusual, so I soldiered on, singing about the fat lonely girl behind the counter at the penny arcade. Baby Dog observed that the piggy sat in the mud and that it ate celery. I sang on. Midway through the first chorus, Baby Dog said: “Turn it off.” I stopped, unsure what she meant. “Turn what off?” I asked. She thought intently for a moment, trying to form the words. Then she said: “Turn off Donald and Lydia?”

So there it is. I am forced to recognise that my little girl is now musically sophisticated enough to know that next to John Prine (or any other professional musician, including possibly even William Hung), Daddy’s singing is crap. Bittersweet, yes. She’s growing up, and that’s good; but in some areas she’s going to want better than I have to give.


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