Where Do Songs Come From?

We’ve always been a very musical family and yesterday I realized that music holds my memories, giving them a time, context and emotion. For other families, it may be a handmade article, special piece of jewelry or other artifact that stirs the memory pot, but for me, it’s the music.

Sunday, at my daughter’s suggestion, my spouse and I met her family to take food to Mamaw at the nursing home. This was the first time I’d seen Mother since my back surgery 2 weeks ago and it was exciting to be out.

We usually eat outside in the courtyard when we visit Mamaw, but for some reason I was insistent upon eating indoors in the living room this time. We all enjoyed our food and talk, but the littlest one soon moved from our table over to the corner of the room where two new cockatiels were in their cage. He pulled a wooden rocking chair up in front of the pair and as they screeched, he sang to them.


Appearing a bit disgusted with the birds, he sang louder and then softer, trying to get them to stop being “annoying”. Finally, he tried a new tactic, we made up a song for the birds. The tune was strangely family . . . mmm and Bingo was his name . . . but the words were new. They had something to do with a shooting star. The birds selected the point at which the new song started to become quiet and we’re all sure it was the song that did it.


Later, when the child’s mom asked who taught him the song. He said “no one”. “Then where did it come from?” she queried. Without hesitation, the little 4-year-old put his hand over his heart and said “from my heart and then it goes to my brain.” I guess that’s where all good songs come from.


This episode helped me remember so many of those little songs this child’s mother and his “unc” made up when they were little. “Unc” is still doing it, having just given an acoustic performance of his own music at a café in San Francisco the night before.  My daughter performs daily with this little fellow as they sing through part of their day. My songs seldom escape in any audible form anymore, but they are definitely still within me.

So where DOES the song come from? My songs comes from a need –  to comfort sadness, to bring joy or perhaps to find a memory. Now that I really think about it . . . songs DO come from the heart. It’s a good place to hold them.

One thought on “Where Do Songs Come From?”

  1. oh my goodness….what a wonderful post! It reminds me to do something that I used to love to do and my critters loved as well. I would make songs up for them all the time. And each animal had their own special song also made up by me. After years in a bad marriage, I stopped doing this. I did not have that happy, light-hearted way about me that I always had. Now that the marriage is over, I am rediscovering things about myself. Thank you for reminding me to turn back to my happy little songs.

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