Many people whistle as they go about their daily activities. I whistled for decades but then the ability to whistle went south so now I hum which has the same beneficial effect on my mood. During my years spent in nursing I worked with many physicians who whistled while they worked.
A local eye surgeon sings and hums during his surgeries and the reason I know this to be true, he sang the entire time during my cataract surgery. There was an orthopedic surgeon on staff who softly sang hymns when he applied casts. And the corker was the gastroenterologist who hummed or whistled on morning rounds but oddly he also sang and whistled while performing a colonoscopy. I am not making this up.
There is need for a reference song book for singing professionals. A section of songs to sing during eye surgery: I Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You, Mine Eyes Have seen the Glory, I’ll See You In My Dreams and of course, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. For the Orthopedic Surgeon there are so many great tunes: Break Down Here, I Don’t’ Break Easily, Never Will I Break or We Walk By Faith.
For the Gastroenterologist aside from the latest show tunes he could be singing Fishin’ In the Dark, Shot in The Dark, There is a Light at the End of the Tunnel and In The Dark. All lovely recorded melodies. Someone who can whistle or hum a pretty tune while performing a colonoscopy is to be admired.
A wheat farmer could sing, “Bringing in the Sheaves” or Shine on Harvest Moon.
Sailors have always sung sea chanties
Lawyers might warble: I’ll Sue you in My Dreams or Law Man (Jefferson Airplane).
Civil Engineer….A Bridge Over Troubled Waters or On the Road Again.
Politician…...Jailhouse Rock comes to mind.
Preacher…. Poppa Don’t Preach to Me or Practice What you Preach
Teacher….. I Don’t Like Mondays, School Days or School’s Out
There are times I find myself singing Hymn 301 from the old Lutheran Hymn Book, He that Believes and is Baptized, a song we sang before each baptism of an infant in our church. The hymn dates back to a German melody written in 1400 and the lyrics by Thomas Kingo were written in 1689. So why do I catch myself singing that rather dirge-like German hymn while I scramble eggs in the morning? A flashback to my childhood, what else could it be?
What we sing affects our lives. When I was in grade school we never had need of grief counsellors because most of the songs we sang were about death or dying. Massa in the Cold Cold Ground, “Swing Low Sweet Chariot, comin’ for to carry me home…”.
When we weren’t singing about death we sang about war: Marching Through Georgia,
Tenting Tonight on the Old Camp Ground. Yet I have memories of us being a carefree happy lot in spite of the songs we sang.
We sang about pets but they were usually dead already. Then there was Old Dog Tray, a really sad song about a dog who lived longer than all of the singer’s friends. All of this delightful music was found in what was known as The Golden Book of Favorite Songs, if it wasn’t in the book we didn’t sing it. I found one in an antique shop, bought it and treasure it, but when I thumb thru the songs and lyrics I am amazed we didn’t all end up clinically depressed.
When children’s music began to appear in the schools, we found the songs a little silly and meaningless. Who wants to sing about happy times and flowers nodding in the sunshine when one could belt out “Lead kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom, Lead thou me on, The night is dark and I am far from home” but we sang it as if it wasn’t a sad song. However, the new music was so sprightly there was never a chance to sing in two part harmony which we all began doing at a very early age.
So when people sing the songs of their childhood or the Broadway tunes of their era as they work, it is a delightful thing. Music is therapeutic to our hearts and minds, even sad songs. I think Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is as right in 2019 as he was in 1833 when he wrote that, “Music is the universal language”. I will keep singing and so should you.
Flados is a resident of Harlingen and can be reached at email@example.com.