Friday, July 4, 2008

Selected lullabies from Israel and Italy

A friend of mine had guests in his house recently, including an Israeli man now living in Florida and a musician from northern Italy, near Bologna. I was invited to lunch with them, to meet the musician, Giuliano Ciabatta, with the expectation we might be able to help one another with our musical projects.

Somehow, over lunch, we got onto the subject of lullabies. I love lullabies. They tend to be written for pure sound, making them nonsense songs, often incorporating jokes for the amusement of the adult singing to the child. Especially in translation from other languages, lullabies can make for haunting and peculiar lyrics.

Here are a few I learned at that lunch. This one, I think, is from Italy:

It's raining
It's raining
It's raining
It's raining
The cat does not move
She lights up a candle
And says, "Good evening"

This one, I know, is from Israel:

Holy, silent night
Jesus peed in the bed

My notes are scratched out onto a tiny piece of paper I had in my pocket because it contained an evocative drawing by my daughter, so it's not clear if this one is from Israel or Italy. One, or the other:

Catch a fly

I also shared with the group a Jewish children's song from Morocco I set to music years ago with my friend Matt Fuller. Our band Eleanor Roosevelt has recorded it as "Children's Rain Song," as it was once used to summon rain. It will be on our record Water, Bread & Beer, provided that we one day finish that record.

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