The Alphabet Song
Obsessive hand washing has adults singing the alphabet song several times a day. If you’re getting sick of ABCs, any song that lasts at least twenty seconds will do.
Or compose your own lyrics to the same 18th-century French melody, as plenty of people have done. The version to which Mozart composed twelve variations (below) translates roughly to “Shall I tell you what upsets me, Mom? Dad wants me to reason like a grown-up, but I prefer sweets over reason.” I’m still trying to pen an English version that fits the tune.
More familiar is “Twinkle, twinkle, little star,” first stanza of a poem by Jane Taylor (1783-1824) published in Rhymes for the Nursery in 1806. By the time The Singing Master III paired Taylor’s poem with the old tune 32 years later, other lyrics had been set to it too, including the alphabet and something called “Mark My Alford.” The possibilities are endless. “Bah, bah, black sheep” is similar but shorter. You’d have to sing it twice to get your hands clean.
Ah ! Vous dirai-je maman
Ce qui cause mon tourment?
Papa veut que je raisonne
Comme une grande personne
Moi je dis que les bonbons
Valent mieux que la raison.
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I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.