Soeur l’Rose, Sonnez les matines, Ding ding dong!

rooster[Originally posted July 2014]

Remember this nursery song?

Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques,
Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous?
Sonnez les matines, sonnez les matines
Ding ding dong, ding ding dong.

I was rudely awakened on a recent morning and was immediately reminded of that old song. It was way too early for a weekend morning, which ought to be reserved for sleeping in. I was reminded of the song because what awakened me was the most obnoxious sound coming from my radio.

As I do sometimes, I leave the radio playing all night as a way to help me sleep. It’s a habit I started a couple of years ago one night when I simply could not make my mind stop whirring around. Instead of getting up, or turning on a light to read, I turned on the radio and listened to the news program broadcasting at that wee-small hour. I dozed off and did not wake again until morning.

Ever since that night, turning on the radio has proven to work exactly like a lullaby. Typically tuned to a “news and information station,” I set the radio’s volume low enough to still hear the soothing, somewhat monotone, yet dulcet tones of the radio announcer droning on, but not loud enough to actually hear what’s being said. If I happen to wake during the night, the radio is still on to lull me right back into a perfect slumber. Works like a charm every time.

But sometimes the chatter on the radio turns to hysterical commentary, or sound-bites of gunfire, which has the opposite effect. On this particular morning, I was abruptly awakened by the high octave song stylings of Minnie Riperton singing her ’70s hit, “Loving You.”

If there is one song I absolutely cannot stand, it is this song. The sickly sweet sentiment, the horrible melody, coupled with the teeny-tiny soprano voice that rivals Disney’s early animated fairy-tale princesses, or a Gilbert & Sullivan ingenue, really grates my nerves. And, just when you think the thing is finally done, that “lalalalala…doodoodoodoo” toward the end, followed by that piercing bird’s screech, “AAAHHH” …. Like fingernails on a chalkboard.

My eyes popped open. The clock read 5:38 a.m. I asked myself why they were playing this absolutely awful song, and why they were playing it at such an ungodly hour, and on a Saturday?!

I listened in some astonishment to interviewee wax poetically on, about not only Minnie Ripperton’s talent—apparently many of her tunes have been borrowed/sampled, etc., over the years—but the particular genius of this song. Furthermore, the interviewee was staging a large tribute event in L.A. later that day celebrating her music.

Who knew? Certainly not I. Whatever compels pop music producers to highlight a songstress’ ability to hit an uber-high F-sharp, I will never understand. Or, apparently, ever appreciate enough to consider staging a concert that I’m sure people will pay actual money to attend (A bit of trivia: Ms. Riperton is actress/comedian Maya Rudolf’s mother).

It gets better. Immediately following the Minnie Ripperton segment was an interview with Weird Al Yankovic promoting his latest album of song parodies. It was bizarre, because Weird Al was trying to be thoughtful and a bit intellectual. But, he’s Weird Al, so his voice came off as a strange mix of deep solemnity and chipper, manic jocularity. In between the conversation, they played many, many, many clips of his crazy tunes.

Going from Riperton’s shrill “AAAAHHH…” to Yankovic’s spritely, Polka-infused be-bop and satirical musings, my lullaby radio had thoroughly betrayed my need of it to otherwise keep me in a comatose state. I knew it would be just a matter of minutes before another clip of hysterical World Cup announcers and fans would be played, so I gave up trying to sleep. I looked at the clock again. It was 6:14 a.m. I don’t even get up this early for work!

As I sat quietly curled up on the couch, in the cool calm of an early summer morning, clutching my coffee for comfort, and hoping to conjure up the last vestige of semi-sleep, I thought: I want to remember this morning whenever I am inspired (or prompted) to write about waking up in a strange parallel universe where frantic, shrill music and slap-happy conversation are the norm for the break of dawn on a Saturday morning.

At least, it being the weekend, I can catch a nap in the afternoon. However I think I’ll leave the radio off.