I was born to folk music-loving parents, so my musical diet was more Simon and Garfunkel's "Cloudy" than "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." Fast forward thirtysomething years, and I find myself singing those very same folk songs to my own child. I think that's what most of us parents do: We sing what we can remember and what we like. In the middle of the night, when we're stifling yawns while trying to get our babies to sleep, we also turn to what's familiar—and, frankly, what's long—and chances are, that's not "Wheels on the Bus."
The folks at NPR have also had infant music on the brain. They recently asked their listeners to submit ideas for the first song a newborn should hear, and the results are fascinating. The top 40 picks—all available on a handy Spotify playlist—are a veritable rainbow of musical styles, eras, and themes.
Truth? I've probably sung exactly three of them to my kid.
It's not for a lack of options. Songs run the gamut from classical (Aaron Copeland's "Appalachian Spring") to show tunes (Julie Andrews in "Cinderella"), soft rock (Elton John's "Your Song") to contemporary (Pharrell Williams' infectious "Happy"). A smattering of Lauryn Hill, Ramones, Bon Iver, The Muppets, Stevie Wonder, and more are thrown in for good measure.
Related: Our All-Time Favorite Lullabies
Not too shabby, but as with any list, there's room for improvement. (Well, at least in my opinion.) Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Under the Bridge" instead of John Lennon's "Beautiful Boy"? Really? And what about Loudon Wainwright's "Daughter"? How did that not make the cut but Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" did?
Still, NPR's audience totally nailed the top song. Louis Armstrong's "Wonderful World" is an obvious but well-deserved number one. After all, what a sweeter way to introduce babies to their new world than to sing about skies of blue, clouds of white, bright blessed days, and dark sacred nights? In fact, it's as good as lulling baby to sleep with a classic tune about parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Well, almost.
Now it's your turn: Tell us what songs you sing to your baby!
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