When my first baby was born, he just cried and cried. I didn’t know what else to do, so I just sang and sang.
I sang it all. I sang classics and country. I sang Aerosmith and The Eagles. I think I sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.” I just sang and sang until he fell asleep, and then I sang some more.
My greatest hits of bedtime were Coldplay’s “Yellow” and “Songbird” – Eva Cassidy’s version, originally by Fleetwood Mac. I didn’t really think about what song would come next. It was more like my heart chose.
These are the songs my heart has chosen to sing again and again to my babies.
It’s funny the catalogue of our memories. A musical theater major with an ear for pop, my songbook is made up of the best of Broadway and teeny-bopper ballads. When my husband sings the kids to sleep, his is a hymnal – “Amazing Grace” and “Silent Night” among them.
(He doesn’t know this, but sometimes I sing his songs when he’s away, so the children think of Daddy as they’re drifting off to sleep.)
We sing the songs our parents played, and we sing the songs of our youth.
“Yellow” debuted in 2000, when I was just a sophomore in high school. Formative, for sure. I’ve read the band actually laughs at its lyrics, sharing in several interviews that the word “yellow” has no meaning whatsoever in the song.
For my family, though, it is meaningful.
Cradling each baby from the day they were born, I have sung that song, low and slow, until they slept. The ultimate lullaby, perhaps it could hold no greater significance than the love of a parent for a child:
You know for you I’d bleed myself dry. For you I’d bleed myself dry.
I don’t usually sing that lyric to my kids, choosing instead to sing the earlier:
You know, you know I love you so. You know I love you so.
(That’s because my daughter would literally think I would drain my own blood and die, and bedtime would be over for everyone in the whole entire town.)
Before Eli went away on his longest overnight trip last summer, Addy and I recorded “Yellow” on his iPad, so he could listen at bedtime.
Later, when his guitar teacher told us to make a list of songs he’d like to learn, I asked Eli to include “Yellow,” expecting it might make Mr. Classic Rock Lockwood keel over.
But he obliged, much to the delight of this mama’s silly heart and the song that is rooted there, from years of rocking babies and knowing – for them, I would bleed myself dry.
I just would.
If you’re still not convinced “Yellow” is a lullaby, full lyrics follow:
Look at the stars Look how they shine for you And everything you do Yeah, they were all yellow
I came along I wrote a song for you And all the things you do And it was called “Yellow”
So then I took my turn Oh what a thing to have done And it was all yellow
Your skin Oh yeah, your skin and bones Turn into something beautiful You know, you know I love you so You know I love you so
I swam across I jumped across for you Oh what a thing to do ‘Cause you were all yellow
I drew a line I drew a line for you Oh what a thing to do And it was all yellow
Your skin Oh yeah your skin and bones Turn into something beautiful
And you know For you I’d bleed myself dry For you I’d bleed myself dry
It’s true Look how they shine for you Look how they shine for you Look how they shine for Look how they shine for you Look how they shine for you Look how they shine
Look at the stars Look how they shine for you And all the things that you do
This story originally appeared on the author's website FlightyMom.com.