Catchphrases · Lyrics · Music

“Golden Slumbers” and conjunctions

After yesterday’s reflections on “You’ve got to hide your love away”, here’s another Beatles song that has been on my mind in the last few days, “Golden Slumbers”. Did you hear Elbow’s version of it? It was released before Christmas last year and accompanied an advert for John Lewis. You can check out the official video, with clips from the TV commercial, here.

The song was played frequently on BBC Radio 2 at the end of last year. I heard its first public broadcast one morning on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show. He liked it so much he played it twice, back to back, and received a few texts to tell him that he should have given a “mascara warning” beforehand.

It’s slightly longer than the Beatles recording, 2:25 compared to the 1:40 that the song takes up as part of “Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End” on “Abbey Road”. The lyrics include the words, “Sleep little darling, do not cry / and I will sing a lullaby”. Inadvertently, and repeatedly, when singing along during the winter I would mix up my conjunctions, replacing the word “and” with “or”. It changes the meaning entirely. “Sleep little darling, do not cry / or I will sing a lullaby” makes it a threat rather than a comfort. You can imagine the child responding, “No daddy, please, not the lullaby, I’ll go to sleep, really, I promise.”

The Elbow recording was played often enough in December and January for this to become a Catchphrase with my daughter. Having explained my mistake to her, whenever the song came on the radio I would deliberately sing “Sleep little darling, do not cry” and then say, with the voice of a cartoon baddie, “Or I Will Sing A Lullaby”. She would respond appropriately. I hadn’t heard the song for a few weeks until last Friday. She wasn’t around. I wonder if she’ll still remember our little lyrical joke next time it comes on the radio, or next time I dig out “Abbey Road”.  We’re coming up to the time of year when it usually gets a few spins. It’s when I’m prompted to play “Here comes the sun”.  When the children were much younger “Octopus’s Garden” was the song they’d choose to hear most often but I expect they’ve moved on from that now.

 

 

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