Thursday, July 8, 2010

The cottonwoods are whispering

When I couldn't get to sleep, when the monsters were close, when the room was too dark, when I hadn't had enough attention for the day.... my mother used to stay (or return) by my bedside and stroke my hair and sing to me.

In her true inimitable style, she sang pitch perfect and, if she got a bung note (usually as a result from trying to sing softly, so not able to properly hold the tune), she'd do over. Something I noticed at the time but didn't mind, being 6 or 7 as I was. But something I now remember and empathize with her, realising how strict she was on herself to be perfect. She didn't have to strive so hard. She was already perfect to me, 'faults' and all.

Her two standards - songs of the time, I suppose - were Tammy (sung by Debbie Reynolds, from the movie) and something about having a "Penny In My Pocket, gonna find a love that's true" (though I don't know its name). And I adored them both. My mother sang them so dreamily, caught up in the romanticism of them as much as she was trying to woo me into slumber and sounding for all the world like she was drifting off on a cloud herself.

Added to the charm of "Tammy" being sung to me to lull me to sleep, was the fact that we had a cat called Tammy when I was very little. She was bitten by a snake when I was three and died, most tragically for my tiny comprehension, peacefully under our car after going there to lay down and quit. I was inconsolable for ages and "Tammy" subsequently made me cry for a number of years.

I can't quite imagine I would get the same effect if I sang a Miley Cirus or Britney Spears standard to the LGBB. So I have stayed with a variation on Tammy, replacing that name with the name of our cat: Tabby.

And boy, has Lolly fallen for it!

In Tammy, she is singing about a boy (of course), true to 1950's Hollywood form. In my version, we are singing about Tabby being in love. Granted, it could possibly seem a little strange to be singing about wishing for the attentions of a cat, who herself appears to be in love with some other. But Lol seems neither to care nor notice. And it makes the song so sweet, when I hear her singing it around the house during the day absent-mindedly, seeing that it's been imprinted on her impressionable little brain.

Better that than some other gangsta-rap number. Right? You with me?

I hear the cottonwoods whisperin' above,
"Tabby ... Tabby ...
Tabby's in love"
The ole hooty-owl
hooty-hoos to the dove,
"Tabby ... Tabby ...
Tabby's in love".

Does my Tabby feel
What I feel
When she comes near?
My heart beats so joyfully,
You'd think that she could hear.

Wish I knew if she knew
What I'm dreamin' of
Tabby ... Tabby ... Tabby's in love.

Whippoorwill, whippoorwill, you and I know
Tabby ... Tabby ... can't let her go
The breeze from the bayou keeps murmuring low:
"Tabby ... Tabby ...
you love her so".

When the night is warm,
Safe and warm,
I long for her charms
She'd purr like a violin
If she were in my arms.

Wish I knew if she knew
What I'm dreaming of
Tabby ... Tabby ...
Tabby's in love

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