OPINION COLUMNS

A song I just can’t let go of

By Bob Buckel | Published Saturday, May 10, 2014

If you haven’t gone on YouTube and watched some adorable kid somewhere singing “Let it Go” from the animated Disney movie “Frozen” – you’re in a minority in this land.

Bob Buckel

Bob Buckel

The Oscar-winning song, which has captivated the hearts and voices of single-digit-year-olds across the nation, is catchy. One video, featuring a set of twins, has over 15 million viewings. Other kids have become celebrities, made the local TV news.

It’s worth a Google-search. Just key in “cute kids singing ‘Let it Go.'”

When I think about cute kids, like most parents I think about my own. They’re all in their 20s now, but I can still hear their child-voices singing – something they did almost every waking moment, when they weren’t otherwise narrating life.

There’s something about the sweet, clear voices of children singing, even when they misfire on a few notes, that just melts your heart. If it doesn’t, get thee to a cardiologist and make sure you have one.

My kids’ voices still sing in my head and heart – but they echo a voice from farther back, captured on reel-to-reel tape by a dad who happened to be in the radio business.

I’m not sure what prompted the interview on KBUK, sometime around 1960, but it became a family treasure. It featured my dad. the consummate radio host, eliciting banter from a snot-nosed 3-year-old (me) and my sister, who at 5 was the star of the show.

I didn’t sing (a good idea) and displayed a tenuous grasp of both grammar and reality as I outlined plans to grow up and be a pirate, then a cowboy, then an astronaut and then … a man, and described my favorite toy, a road grader “my daddy sended off for.”

I haven’t heard the tape in years. If we found it now, I have no idea what we would play it on. But the part I remember most vividly is my sister’s voice.

She sounded like an angel.

She did a brief interview, then sang a commercial for Handy Andy – “the liquid cleaner that’s murder on dirt but nice to you” – ending with a rousing “Handy Andy, you’re my boy!”

Then, she told Dad she had a song “all about Peter Pan” (Pan having at least two syllables).

I can still hear it, soft and clear, as the reel-to-reel quietly spins:

The angel voice that bids you goodnight,
Kisses your ear, whispers ‘Sleep tight!’
Your mother and mine,
Your mother and mine.

The helping hand that guides you along,
Whether you’re right, whether you’re wrong,
Your mother and mine,
Your mother and mine.

What makes mothers all that they are?
Might as well ask, ‘What makes a star?’

Ask your heart to tell you her worth,
Your heart must say, ‘Heaven on earth!’
Another word for divine,
Your mother, and mine.

Copyright 1953, Disney
Lyrics by Sammy Cahn

We had probably just watched the black-and-white TV version of “Peter Pan” – Mary Martin dashing about in tights and everyone required to believe she was a boy (I didn’t). I remember the flying, and the pirates, and having to believe really hard in fairies (I did) so Tinker Bell would live (she did).

But I don’t remember that song.

I only know the song through my sister. I felt she sang it directly at me, since the tag line was, “Your mother and mine” – and she and I are the only persons on this earth who share this particular mother.

Isn’t it amazing how a 5-year-old’s song can plant so firmly in you that you remember every word, more than five decades later? I’ve seen that mother raise her kids, teach Sunday school, work a job, cook and feed and clothe us and give us a wonderful home to grow up in.

I learned a lot at her feet – as close as I was with my dad, it was Mom and I who had the long talks about life-things. She was a vital part of my education, helping grow me into a man fit for the wonderful girl who has been mother to my own children.

Now Mom shares a home with my sister, who lovingly returns, every day, a measure of the gentle nurturing we grew up with.

My sister and I share a lot, of course. But today, this Mother’s Day and every day, Mom is by far the most important thing we share.

Your mother, and mine.

Bob Buckel is editorial director for the Messenger.

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