Saturday, October 23, 2010

13 Days of Halloween - The Cat Came Back

Today I was moving some boxes around in my garage, getting out some more Halloween decorations.  I had the garage door open to let in the beautiful crisp fall air, which we are finally starting to experience here in the Valley of the Sun. As I was working, I saw a shadowy flash out of the corner of my eye.  I walked around the side of the car, and there was my neighbor's black cat (the one that uses my yard for her own personal litter box and has screeching cat-fights in our backyard at 2 AM), her creepy yellow eyes staring at me.  I hissed at her and she scooted out of the garage. Not but a few minutes later, as I was getting ready to shut the garage, I saw her along the wall, sneaking up to the nook where our water heater is located, so I had to shoo her out again.  I thought to myself, "That darn cat came back!" and for whatever reason, this triggered a long repressed memory in my brain, and it came back to me, as clear as yesterday...

When I was in elementary school, around Halloween, we would sing creepy Halloween songs in my music class. One of the songs we would always sing was called, "The Cat Came Back".  As I pulled it up on YouTube, I wondered why in the world my music teacher would have us sing this at Halloween, let alone have little children sing about violence towards cats.  Ah, I suppose, it was the golden age of cartoon violence, a time when Tom and Jerry beat each other up every afternoon. I guess it was harmless. And black cats are a traditional image around Halloween. "The Cat Came Back" is a folk song from the 1800s, but here is a pretty funny version courtesy of the Muppet Show.  (Keep reading down after the video - I have two more songs to share.)

There are two other songs that I remember singing.  One was "With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm", an ode to the ghost of Anne Boleyn by folk band The Kingston Trio.  Again, I am somewhat amused and mystified that we were allowed to sing these songs as little kids.

If you think those two songs were a bit twisted, just wait until you hear this one. This is the last song that I remember singing in our Halloween-themed music class. It's called, "The Hearse Song".  The fact we were allowed to sing these songs probably explains a lot about me and the way I am today... ha ha!  Below is the only decent version I could find of it on YouTube, but he does change the arrangement and the lyrics a little.  Below the video are the original lyrics as I remember them.  If I remember correctly, this is an American folk song that originated with soldiers in the Civil War.

The Hearse Song
Well don't you laugh as the hearse goes by,
For you may be the next to die.
They wrap you up in a big white sheet,
From your head down to your feet.
They put you in a big black box,
And cover you up with earth and rocks.
All goes well for about a week,
Until your coffin begins to leak.
The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out,
The worms play pinochle on your snout.
They eat your eyes, they eat your nose,
They eat the jelly between your toes.
A big green worm with rolling eyes,
Crawls in your stomach and out your eyes.
Your stomach turns a slimy green,
And pus pours out like whipping cream,
You spread it on a piece of bread,
And that's what you eat when you are dead.
So next time you see the hearse go by,
Watch out!
For you may be the next to die!


chandy said...

I had never heard The Cat Came Back Before...that is HILARIOUS! I suppose it just proves that cats really do have 9 lives ;)

I've been wanting to get the kids some Muppets DVDs for Christmas... I think they might enjoy them (or at least I would enjoy watching them with the kids!)

D.L. White said...

It really is a funny song. I hadn't thought about the whole nine lives thing! That probably explains it. All I know is I promise not to blow up my neighbor's cat with TNT. lol :-P

I love love love the Muppets. I'd be interested to see if today's kids would love them just as much as we all did.

Laura said...

The version of "The Cat Came Back" I remember is sung here by Fred Penner. Creepy and morbid for a kid's song. Maybe understanding and accepting death isn't something to shelter kids from, but a good way to discuss heaven and the decisions we make on earth leading us to our reward? Although this song probably isn't the best way to bridge the issue of eternal salvation. ;)

D.L. White said...

In my music class, we used to sometimes sing along with a record player (yeah, a record player - that doesn't date me at all, does it?) and this is the version I remember us singing along to. Thanks for finding it for me!

And I think you're right - maybe it's a way for kids to start dealing with death in a safe way?