Singing Monkeys

Families are unique. Some make music.

Our granddaughter Rosie June spent a weekend with us recently. Her visits always guarantee a fun time together, even though we rarely make plans. We’re happy to let events and activities simply unfold. We picked her up on Friday evening, sharing a dinner with Rosie and her folks before returning to San Diego. We mentioned to her parents that it might be fun for Rosie to learn about audio recording, since we write and record music regularly. When we invited suggestions, her dad said without hesitation, “We are the Martins song!” We looked at each other’s blank expressions and then back at him, “Okay, what’s that?” Our daughter immediately went into a sketchy rendition with a lot of “yeah, yeah, yeahs” that cracked us up, and the conversation moved on.

That next day, we asked Rosie if she was interested in recording some music together. She enthusiastically said YES! So we were off and running. First, we sent a text to Mom and Dad, asking them for input. Maybe a quick recording of this “Martin song.” Minutes later, a text response arrived with Rosie’s mom repeating her now-famous chorus, with the ever-familiar “yeah, yeah, yeahs,” and her dad spontaneously chiming in with a silly lyrical list of some things they love to do together (“We like to . . .”). We had our direction.

Original Recording by Mom and Dad

Rosie recording

Cheryl and Rosie immediately began writing an expanded list of things she loves to do with her parents, which began morphing into what we loosely called the lyrics. Rosie then sat down at the keyboard with headphones on, and played improvisations with her favorite instruments: electric piano, flute, drums and trumpet (keyboards are loaded with various synthesized instrument sounds). Meanwhile, Em created a simple guitar track with chords and a rhythm that we all agreed on as representing the spirit of the song. Then Rosie took the microphone. We explained that the use of the “popper” was to soften any harsh “P” sounds. Immediately  the “popper” became her favorite new tool and she started belting out the words that had just been written. Within an hour, we had the entire song finished, complete with harmony and ad-libs—we had more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

Begin now!

Reflecting back on that April morning in the “studio,” we realized that families, one way or another write, play and record “family stories. “Families create their own culture made from thousands of routines, shared activities, style, and individual quirks. All of those elements combined create the collective identity that only those family members share—completely unique, never before and never again happening in this world. So then, what is your family story/song? What are the lyrics? How does it sound?

Perhaps you’d like to literally take some time to write it. Maybe your family story is drawn. Or it could be musical. It might even take the form of good old-fashioned storytelling—a narrative that can be told and retold generation after generation. Don’t let it slip away! Capture it! Create the unforgettable experience of documenting who you are as a family. Unique as a fingerprint. We think you’ll have more fun than a barrel of monkeys!

Finished Music—”We are the Martins”

Credits

Inspiration – Rosie June
Original idea – Mom and Dad
Lyrics – Rosie June and Cheryl (Mu)
Music – Rosie June and Em (Goo)
Vocals – RJ, Mu and Goo
Production – RJ, Mu and Goo