Pine Nuts: Power of the lullaby |

Pine Nuts: Power of the lullaby

It has become my obsession over the past ten months to ascertain exactly how little or next to nothing I can do, and still be counted as, “amongst the living.” This act of social downsizing has taken me all the way down to the examination of … lullabies.

Fact is, were I about to be given my last rites, I might humbly petition, “Ah, could I have Monique Palomares singing, ’Frere Jacque.’” (Monique might even bring me back from the brink.)

Taking this examination a step further, recent research by Candace Bainbridge at UCLA has discovered that lullabies can be instrumental in the cognitive development of babies. It doesn’t matter who’s singing them either, female or male, old or young, babies just love lullabies. “Goo-goo, give me a goo-goo lullaby, please!”

Yes, and the results are striking, the heart rate slows to a comfortable crawl, the pupils contract nicely, even the skin relaxes. (I didn’t know such a thing was even possible.)

So my question is, do we outgrow our receptiveness to the benefits of a lullaby? Put another way, if we are administered lullabies at a mature age, might we still respond in kind? I tested this quandary on myself by playing recorded lullabies on a soundtrack in my bedroom as I dropped to off sleep last night. Of the lullabies I chose, one was a past favorite of mine, “Frere Jacque.”

Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques,

Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous?

Sonnez les matines! Sonnez les matines!

Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong.

The voice I chose was the melodious voice of Monique Palomares, a voice that would put the Queen’s Top Guard to sleep, and cause him to fall flat on his face right there in front of Buckingham Palace. I put the lullabies on, nice and soft, climbed into bed, pulled the covers up to my chin, and dropped like a stone into a deep sleep. But when I awakened this morning, I found myself talking baby-talk to no one in particular, “Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong!”

Well I did get the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had, but even after a cup of coffee I answered the phone, “He-whoa?” And when asked if I might be interested in sending twenty-five dollars to The Little Sisters of Minerva , I answered, “Yes, yes, morning bells are ringing! Ding, dang, dong!”

Well, I congratulate Ms. Bainbridge on her research, but I am done with lullabies myself. You will not see me jumping out of bed in the morning singing, “Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong!” No, I’m done with lullabies. But if you happen to have a newborn, do sing lullabies to that lucky baby. Lullabies will hasten that baby’s cognitive development, and too, that baby just might turn out to be a karaoke singer. But if you should elect to experiment with lullabies on yourself, I caution you to take care in selecting those lullabies … stay clear of, “Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong!”

Me? Did I mention? I’m done with lullabies …

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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