The list of songs I know by heart is an odd one, and it includes anything from “You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You” to “Thriller” to “Wayfaring Stranger,” with all manner of indie rock songs filling the spectrum in between. Leonard Cohen makes an appearance in my repertoire, as do Louis Armstrong, 16 Horsepower, Ella Fitzgerald and an assortment of revived hymns, the scope of which demand a broad vocal range from dusky alto to pure, crystalline soprano to deep, unapproachable bass.
This is how I spend my evenings lately: pacing the hallway, sleepy (but still blinking) Lydia in my arms, swaying gently and singing the songs that I sang for her in my last months of pregnancy, in the hopes that she would come out tapping her toes and knowing music as a basic language from birth.
Evidently, she has, and she does: the first time I sang Rosie Thomas’s “2 Dollar Shoes” for her, she stopped mid-wail and stared at me, her mouth a small contemplative “o.” She stared at my face for the duration of the song, and the second I stopped, began wailing again.
While this is not a fool-proof method of calming a hungry, cranky Lydia down, Mitch has dubbed it one of the best weapons we’ve got and I love that, because nothing calms me down like singing and heaven knows that when she’s wailing we all need a little calming down.
Just as some of the sweetest points of my pregnancy were those when Lydia, hearing certain hymns at church or certain songs on my guitar or, once, certain double bass drums at a certain rock show, kicked enthusiastically as though she was dancing in utero, so some of the sweetest points of her first month have been those spent in darkened corners of the apartment, singing for this tiny being who grows still and rapt, as though hearing again a familiar tune from some half-forgotten time.