“And she used to sing all the time, around the house, and I did too, and she um listened to records, as I was a child, and I grew up with a lot of famous like Glenn Miller, and all that, and that kind of music, and so I have always loved music, and I have always been very thankful that God put the um the desire for music and the appreciation for music in our hearts, because how does that happen, you know? And so I think that if you have a love of music, you got that somewhere, you know it doesn’t just happen, so I suspect a person growing up in a home, without music, wont have the same level of appreciation of music that somebody like me has, I mean.
Do you have any songs that come to mind when you think of her?
Oh well she used to sing “You are my sunshine”
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,
you make me happy, when skies are grey.
You never know dear, how much I love you.
So please don’t take my sunshine away.”
It makes me cry. You know it don’t you?
She used to sing that and all kinds of songs, and she sang in the Church when she was young in Wisconsin. She sang at a Protestant Church, you know the Catholic Church was too far away, you know they had to walk in the snow and all that. But she loved all popular songs. Uh and when she hears classical music, she would say: “Can’t they play something that has a melody, that’s just noise!” She was a character.”
Informant: the informant was born in Chicago, and attended high school and college there, graduating with a degree in English. After marrying and having one child, she moved to Dallas, Texas where she raised three children with her husband. She is of Irish descent, her father being from Ireland, and her mother was born in Wisconsin after her parents moved from Ireland, and her heritage and tradition are very important to her. She is a grandmother of five children.
In this piece, the informant is speaking about her mother, who was born in a family of Irish immigrants who had moved to Wisconsin. Her mother was an Irish Catholic, and so is the informant. The informant was speaking about how she gained her appreciation of music from her mother, and she would learn songs from listening to her mother sing around the house. One of those songs was “You are my sunshine.” This song has a special significance because the tune and the lyrics are very moving to the informant. The informant in turn passed down this song to her children, who sing it to their children.
The reasons that this song makes the informant cry and has special significance could be because of the relationship that she had with her mother, who taught her the song, as well as the poignancy of the lyrics. When associating a simple song like this with a loved one, it brings to mind all of the love that is associated with that person. Therefore, when singing the song and saying “please don’t take my sunshine away,” the simple lyrics are moving in that the represent losing the love that is associated with the singer of that song, who is often a loved one.
This song was often sung by the mother to her daughter as a sort of lullaby, which has a special significance as well. That is to say that the lullaby is meant to be a comforting tune for the child. When a mother sings this to a child she is singing about her love for her child. Therefore, when the informant was recalling this song, she could have been thinking about her mother, who had passed away several years ago, bringing back comforting memories of her. This song demonstrates how such a simple tune, and simple lyrics may have such profound emotional ties that lead to the passing down of this song as a lullaby from mothers to their children.
In addition, the comment that the informant’s mother made about classical music lacking a melody and just being “noise,” is representative of the separation of folk music and classical music. While classical music was taught in a strict manner through the aristocracy and apart from the people, folk music flourished with the rest of the population and was picked up by other people. It is clear that the informant’s mother had an appreciation for this folk music, while maintaining distaste for classical music. This could also be correlated with her Irish descent, as the Irish have a strong tradition of folk music.