Reflections on Children’s Music – Part II – Almeda Riddle
03 Sunday Jun 2012
(I introduced the great American scholar, Leslie Fiedler, in Part I of these essays on children’s music. My comments are informed by concepts introduced in a graduate course Leslie taught on children’s literature.)
This is yet another superb album on the wondrous New World Records label – a collection of children’s songs called Old Mother Hippletoe. The great Almeda Riddle sings this animal song, “Little Rooster.” As the fantastic liner notes to the album explain, folklorists classify this as a cumulative song because it creates an ever expanding catalog or list as it progresses, and it could, literally, never end. “Old MacDonald” and the “Twelve Days of Christmas” are well known examples. Just about every person who recorded an album for children has performed this song:
I love my little rooster
And my rooster loves me
I cherish that rooster
Neath the green bay tree
My little rooster goes
And of course she loves her hog and her guinea and her hen and her dog just as much.
Leslie Fiedler pointed out that stories told by children don’t have a beginning a middle and an end. The child will say “. . . and then . . . and then . . . and then . . . .” That is why cumulative songs are so appealing to adults and children. We have all, as children, told, and as parents, endured, this kind of story.
Traditional, “Little Rooster,” Public Domain. Performed by Almeda Riddle (originally released on Various Artists, Southern Folk Heritage Series: American Folk Songs For Children, Atlantic Records, SD 1350 (1959)). From Old Mother Hippletoe: Rural and Urban Children’s Songs, New World Records: Recording Anthology of American Music, Inc., NW 291 (1978). Album design – Elaine Sherer Cox; Cover Art – “Story Hour” by Mabel McKibbin Farmer.