When I was a kid, I had a terrible music teacher.
Her name was Mrs. Johansen. She’s been a music teacher forever. FOREVER. She taught my mom in the 60s. I Googled her full name today and as recently as 2000 she was still bloody teaching music at the same goddamn school. Which would be really impressive and inspiring blah blah blah, had she been a good teacher. Or even a nice person.
She was not either of those things. She hated children. Seemed like she hated music, too. Enthusiasm was discouraged. When we were very young, she decided if we were “good at music” or not. And that designation lingered for the seven long years of elementary school. If you were “good”, heaven help you, because she would force you to compete in music festivals, join glee club, take solo parts in the Christmas concert. If you were “bad” she would tell you so and not let you do anything outside of regular class activities.
She told a friend of mine once that she had “no ear for music” and should find another hobby. My friend was nine. She went on to be an accomplished French horn player (and that’s one of the hardest instruments to master).
Short version – she sucked, and she sucked for generations of kids.
She taught us all songs, which we had to sing. And one of those songs was “Found a Peanut”.
In “Found a Peanut” (sung to the tune of “My Darlin’ Clementine), the protagonist finds a peanut. It is rotten, but s/he eats it anyway. The rotten peanut causes horrible stomach pains, necessitating surgery. The patient dies on the operating table, goes to heaven, is rejected at the pearly gates, goes “the other way”, finds all his friends there (!!) and eventually wakes to find it was all a dream.
So, in brief, child eats peanut, brings about the apocalypse. Oh, but it’s OK, because it was a dream. HA HA KIDS, FOOLED YOU.
My sister and I were talking about this today. She remembers being terrified of the song. One day at home she started singing it, and part way through started crying uncontrollably, but couldn’t stop singing until it was finished or everyone would die.
It’s a long, terrible, droning song to listen to even without the nightmarish lyrics, too. It’s got a hellish number of verses – and since there are various versions you can just add MORE verses, should the notion take you. Now that I spend my day with little kids and am often asked to lead sing-alongs – especially this week, which has been very rainy & windy – I cannot fathom what would make a person voluntarily teach “Found a Peanut” to 30 five year olds.
I’d rather sing “I’m Henry the VIII”. And that song could replace waterboarding at Gitmo.
Anyone else remember ‘Found a Peanut’? What irritating songs do you remember from your childhood? What ‘meant for children’ thing scared you?