I’ve got absolutely no idea where my love of music came from. Surely there’s no genetic influence there. It’s not like my family has a habit of randomly breaking into song…oh wait! Yes they do!
And thank God for that.
Why don’t my guests break into four-part harmony when I host a dinner party? That’s just par for the course with a Middleton gathering. It’s not beyond the scope of possibilities for a piano to get hauled onto a patio just to compliment the singing. You can’t get more than three of those folks within five feet of one another before a guitar magically appears.
And thank God for that, too.
Maybe I’m just an overly emotional douche, but my eyes can’t help but swell up with happy tears when those beautiful people haggle over lyrics. They really, really suck at lyrics. But they more than makeup for their lack of detail with their exuberant showmanship – as exhibited in the video of the “Old Maid” song.
Sadly, the number of singers continues to dwindle as siblings pass on. Where once there were nine, now there are only four. I miss Aunt Mary’s songs the most. She was the oldest of the Middleton siblings, and made my vocabulary look downright angelic. I can only dream of being as cool as she was.
I can still see her skinny arms guiding her capable hands from one end of the keyboard to the other. Her round apple body would bounce as her spindly limbs would scamper across the keys and pump the pedals mercilessly. My favorite was her song about the mailman.
“I can come in any kind of…weather. ‘Cause my bags are made of…leather.”
Pause for applause.
“I’m so happy, I’m so gay. ‘Cause I come, twice a day. I’m your mailman.”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that type of tune isn’t sung at the average Christmas dinner.
Her adorable daughter, Mrs. Mouse, sang some of her classics at the family reunion including, “I’m so lonesome in the saddle….since my horse died.” I think with all the free time I’m rockin’ as an unemployed drain on society, I’m going to do some research and put together a Middleton Family Songbook. Do you need a parental advisory if it’s not recorded music?
They have another tradition of singing this song where they all embody a separate instrument. This video features the musical stylings of three siblings and one cousin. Only in a family of nine children can one of the cousins actually be older than the youngest sibling. (She goes rat-tat-ee-tat and never quits.)
Thom and I tried to pull this number off with some of our friends at our most recent 4th of July gathering. After listening to our failed attempts and excessive caterwauling my mother pulled me aside subtly the next day.
“Honey, don’t you guys have any friends who can carry a tune?”
“No, Mom. They’re harder to find than you think.”
“Hmmm,” was her only response.
It reminded me of the tales of Uncle Chuck when he brought home his bride, Aunt Carolyn. He used to tell her to just mouth the words at familiy functions ’cause she was not the strongest singer. Harsh? Maybe. Shocking? Not even kinda.