Pieces of Memory. Plus, the World’s Longest Version of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”

It’s moving season here in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Today I watched neighbors lower furniture through the window of a third story apartment using a rope and pulley. This reminded me of seeing all the pulley hooks at the top of houses in Amsterdam when I was on tour last spring. Apparently, Amsterdam stairways are narrow!

Of course, it also reminded me of the babies and levers.

And it reminded me of high school physics, which was one of many bad experiences during a difficult stretch of time that I’m happy to have lived through, but that you couldn’t pay me enough to live through again. Have I mentioned lately how much I despise adults who think that life is easy for the young?

I just watched (and enjoyed) Almost Famous, which brought me back to high school, too, and a music decision I had to make at one point: should I buy Tommy, performed by The Who, or Tommy, the Broadway cast recording? For those of you who love classic rock, I’m sure it’s an obvious decision; for those of you who love Broadway musicals, ditto; but what about for those of you who, like me, love both? At the time, my sister, secret codename: Cordelia, already owned the version performed by The Who, plus, I’d just been to see the show on Broadway (adolescence wasn’t all crap)… so I chose the Broadway version. 17 years later, I’m no longer in a position to steal Cordelia’s CDs… and this morning I had some very tedious work to do on my computer… so I allowed myself to add The Who version of Tommy to my music collection. Today I worked while listening to both albums.

(In case there are readers on my blog who’re too young to know who The Who are — ever watched an episode of [the following links play music] CSI, CSI: Miami, or CSI: NY? All the theme songs are cut from classic songs by The Who. Kind of painful to listen to in some cases if you know and love the originals, especially the theme of CSI: NY, “Baba O’Riley,” but anyway.)

Since I’m talking about memories — I’ve been thinking about the excellent game my sisters and I invented when my sister, secret codename: Apocalyptica, was in the hospital in Finland: Sufficient Number of Questions. I blogged about it once, so I won’t get into it here. But the reason I’ve been thinking about it is that recently Cordelia, Apocalyptica, and I sang the longest ever version of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” which reminded me that often, when sisters are involved, necessity leads to epic inventions. This version of “Old MacDonald” began as a means of entertaining two fussy one-year-olds, but I think that by the end, we were mostly amusing ourselves. And possibly driving my upstairs neighbors completely bonkers.

With no further ado, here are just a few suggestions should you ever run out of barnyard animals while singing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”:

  • snake (a great hit should one of the babies suddenly discover her ability to make a “ssssss-sssss” sound for the first time ever)
  • laughing hyena (maniacal cackle)
  • Animal the Muppet (AAAAAAAAAA!) (This began a lengthy series of Muppets, which I’ll spare you)
  • train (Toot-toot!)
  • conductor (All aboard!)
  • trapeze artist (Hep!)
  • a suffragette (“With a ‘Votes for women!’ here and a ‘Votes for women!’ there. Here a ‘Votes for women!’, there a ‘Votes for women!’, everywhere a ‘Votes for women! Votes for women!'” — if you think that’s a mouthful, keep reading)
  • Mikhail Gorbachev (Glasnost!) (This began a lengthy series of political references)
  • Ronald Reagan (Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!)
  • Bill Clinton (I did not have sexual relations with that woman!)
  • Seinfeld (Hello, Newman!)
  • Hamlet (To be or not to be!) (This began a lengthy series of Shakespeare quotes, which I’ll spare you)
  • Stanley Kowalski (Stella!)
  • The Graduate (Elaine!)
  • Captain Von Trapp (Edelweiss!)
  • Compatriots of Spartacus (I’m Spartacus!) (This one involved standing up)

Anyway, the babies seemed to enjoy it.