Raffi: Listen With Caution - Los Angeles Post-ExaminerLos Angeles Post-Examiner

Raffi: Listen With Caution

I think I am doing an okay job with my son’s musical education. We listen to a balanced earful of meditative chanting and far-east miscellany, as well as early nineties angst. I am careful to avoid the heavier stylings of my grunge and metal favorites, and so far Dante hasn’t been alarmed by anything he hears—quite the opposite; he likes to chirp along to most of the songs on his Spotify playlist. Lately, however, I’ve felt compelled to expose him to some age-appropriate music.

Parents sing along with their children. (Photo is Screen shot from YouTube video)

Parents sing along with their children.
(Photo is Screen shot from YouTube video)

Growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s, Raffi was a musical staple for my generation. Every daycare and classroom had tapes — Tapes! — of the popular musician and to this day, I still know many of his songs by heart. I loved Raffi. And so, when Dante and I started listening to him, I was dismayed to realize that most of his songs are creepy and insane.

  • Down By The Bay. “Down by the bay, where the watermelons grow, back to my home, I dare not go.”  This song is nonsense. Do watermelons even grow near bays? Whatever, that’s not the most pressing issue here. Why do you not dare go home, small child? This seems suspect. Find a reliable adult to call child services for you. Also, if you see any of the following, please stop doing whatever it is that makes you see such things: “Did you ever see a whale, with a polka dot tail?” No, Raffi, no one has ever seen this but you.
  • Brush Your Teeth. “When you wake up in the morning, it’s a quarter to one, and you want to have a little fun, you brush your teeth!” No. When you wake up at a quarter to one, it isn’t morning. It’s Mommy-Is-Finally-Out hour. You do not need to brush your teeth.“When you wake up in the morning, it’s a quarter to two, and you want to find something to do, you brush your teeth!” False. Just like the one o’clock hour, two a.m. is not for brushing teeth, or singing, or being awake at all. This song is horrible propaganda for the already-wayward toddler.
  • Kinds sing along, reciting every word of every verse. (Photo is Screen shot from YouTube video)

    Kinds sing along, reciting every word of every verse.
    (Photo is Screen shot from YouTube video)

    Peanut Butter Sandwich. A peanut butter sandwich made with jam, One for me and one for David M., now a peanut butter sandwich made with jam, stick, stick, stick, stick, stick.” Raffi, my son is allergic to peanut butter. Do not exacerbate my grocery shopping anxiety anymore. Who is David M.?

  • Haru Ga Kita. “Haru ga kita, haru ga kita, Doko ni kita, Yama ni kita, Sato ni kita, No ni mo kita. Yeah, I don’t know what that says. I doubt that Raffi does, either.
  • Mary Wore Her Red Dress. “Mary wore her red dress, red dress, red dress all day long.” Mary needs a bath. “Mary was a red bird, red bird, red bird, all day long.” No, she really wasn’t. Please get your eyes checked.
  • Jiggeldy Jill. “Jiggeldy Jill, I fall uphill, but they pretend not to hear, they make believe that they don’t see, they’ll be fine if they don’t share, makes me laugh and cry.” You need some new friends. You also need to be more careful around hills, if you are prone to falling up them. I would hate to hear about what happened if you fell down a hill, as most people do.
  • Octopus’ Garden. “He’d let us in, knows where we’ve been, in an octopus’ garden in the shade.” Oh, no. Nothing about this sounds okay. “We would sing and we’d dance around, because we know that we can’t be found.”  Get out of the water.
  • Biscuits in the Oven. “Biscuits in the oven, gonna watch em rise, biscuits in the oven gonna watch ‘em rise.” Ok, I can go for some biscuits. Absolutely. Let’s do this. “When they get ready gonna jump and shout, roll my eyes and bug them up.” Please calm down. “Gonna look both ways when I cross the street (unnecessary silence), Gonna look both ways when I cross the street (unnecessary silence), Gonna look both ways when I cross the street, gonna take my time when the light turns green.” Huh? What happened to the biscuits?
One little girl even got up to dance. (Photo is Screen shot from YouTube video)

One little girl even got up to dance.
(Photo is Screen shot from YouTube video)

I don’t ever want to hear admonishment from anyone for blasting Nirvana around my son, when Raffi has clearly perfected a genre of music best called “stranger danger whimsy.” Don’t get me wrong — many of his songs are classics. But when my 18-month-old reacts with horror to words he doesn’t even understand (he never does this with any of my music), it may be time to break out the real tune-age.

 Raffi singing “Down By the Bay”


About the author

Virginia Petrucci

Virginia Petrucci is a freelance fiction and non-fiction writer, and a former model and actress. She has a bachelor's degree in Theatre and English, and is pursuing further education in Psychology. She has a one-year old son named Dante. Contact the author.
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