Her favorite and most requested song is Back in Timeby Gillian Welch. So often I come into a room while Lucille is singing, too much beer and whiskey to ever be employed and when I got to Nashville there was too much soldiers’ joy. She’s asked me what employed means. Thank goodness she hasn’t asked me about soldiers’ joy. She hits the high notes in the verse peaches in the summertime, apples in the fall, if I can’t have you all the time I won’t have none at all. Then, the next part, it kills me every time. Wish I was in Frisco (which she says Fwisco) in a brand new pair shoes, but I’m sittin’ here in Nashville with Norman’s Nashville blues. She stretches shoes perfectly and has asked on more than one occasion, “Mama, who’s Norman?”
Lucille nails Nashville with Gillian’s signature inflection and makes me know that no matter where we live my little girl has a little bit of southern coursing through her veins. She sounds like my grandfather, heavy on the Nash, light on the ville. And it sounds like home.
Because her name is Lucille, people have, since she was born, sung Kenny Roger’s song by the same name to her. She caught a verse or two not long ago and went around singing four hungry children and a crop (cwop) in the field, you picked a fine time to leave me Lucille. It’s a little odd to hear such dark lyrics coming from a 32-pound pixie but somehow this is the music that sticks with her.
Then there is K’naan. Good Lord is there K’naan. Eliza’s class learned Wavin’ Flag and, really, we’ve heard nothing else since. Lucille knows all the words to the first version, the one that got rewritten for the World Cup. As we’re driving down the road she’ll sing ..learn from these streets, they can be bleak, accept no defeat, surrender, retreat. And while we’re struggling, fighting to eat, and we’re wondering when we’ll be free...I heard them say, love is the way, love is the answer, that's what we say...so we patiently wait, for that faithful day, it’s not far away, for now we say, when I get older, I will be stronger, they’ll call me freedom just like a waving flag.
“Hey Mommy,” she said tonight as we drove home. “What does this song mean?”
“Well, K’naan is from a place where people aren’t nice to each other and he’s singing about that.”
“Do they not have enough to eat?” she said.
“No, they don’t,” I said. “And he’s singing about how he hopes his country will get better, he has a lot of hope for that.”
I got a little choked up trying to describe to a four-year-old the politics of Somalia where K’naan is from. It made me think of a few other questions we’ve fielded this week.
“Hey Mommy, can you tell me about that King?”
Martin Luther King, Jr., that is. I told them he wasn’t a King, really, but he was really, really important. I Googled his I've Been to the Mountaintop speech Monday and realized, as we were watching it, that the inauguration was going on in Washington.
We watched a little bit of the inauguration and it hit me, as I’m sure it did so many other Americans no matter their political persuasion, that this was an amazing moment to witness. Martin Luther King, Jr. may have imagined the day a black man was sworn in (again) as president only in his dreams. I made sure my daughters watched a little of Barak Obama’s speech so that may know a black man being president only as normal.
This week we’ve had 103 degree fevers in our house. Both kids are down for the count, watching princess movies and sucking on popsicles. I’m missing work and trying to keep up from home. I can’t stop singing Wavin’ Flag between doses of Advil. Neither can Lucille.