Saturday, December 11, 2010

Leaving Well Enough Alone

I'm a sucker for music. I listen to just about anything good, and even some stuff that's not so good. I still have a substantial collection of vinyl records in addition to my CDs and my downloaded music, and it ranges from classical to jazz to popular songs from the turn of the last century to rock and roll from my own youth.

And, of course, since I grew up listening to music, I know a lot of traditional children's songs. Like Down By the Station. You know:

Down by the station early in the morning,
See the little pufferbellies all in a row.
See the station master pull the little handle:
"Puff Puff, Toot Toot" off we go.

So I was a little annoyed when I saw this tune in my son's recorder method book with these lyrics:

Down at the station early in the morning,
See the locomotives all in a row.
Hear the station master calling all the engines:
"All aboard!" Off they go.

Okay...why? They didn't even match the meter. Someone I mentioned this to thought they might be trying to make the song more "accessible" to modern youngsters. How? By taking out any reference to steam engines (pufferbellies)? Kids love steam engines. Have these people never heard of Thomas the Tank Engine? I mean, I can forgive singer James Coffey, who replaces the station master with the engine driver, which makes more sense, and goes "Chug Chug" instead of "Puff Puff," which is also a better description. He's keeping the meter perfectly and the adaptation still keeps the spirit of the original.

But there's just no reason for this. Next thing you know we'll see an adaptation of the "Little House On the Prairie" books where the Ingalls family rides across the plains in a car.

Probably a Prius.