by Carl Strang
Earlier I shared my “greatest hit” among adults. Today’s recording is the one kids like most. I wrote “Chickadee Song” as part of a little theatrical performance for preschoolers called A Day in the Forest. Its main limitation was the need for costume changes between characters which, though quick, were not quick enough to keep the pace going for that audience (the main items in the chickadee costume were a black baseball cap and a t-shirt with a drawing of a chickadee on it). Somewhat surprisingly, on more than one occasion a child recognized me months later and sang back part of the chorus to this song:
If you’re walkin’ through the forest and you happen to see an upside down, acrobatic chickadee,
Pay attention and you may find that havin’ a good time’s a state of mind.
Chorus: Chickadee-dee-dee, chickadee-dee-dee, chickadee-dee-dee, life is one big game to me.
I eat little insects that I find in trees, and I watch out for hawks that would like to eat me.
Winter or summer it’s all the same: life to me is one fast-paced game. (Chorus)
The forest is my gymnastic apparatus, and my family and me, we like to make a fuss.
You can hear us singin’ all through the day, havin’ fun the chickadee way. (Chorus)
There are things you can learn from watchin’ us birds. You can learn by imitation, you don’t need words.
You can have fun without bein’ rude, just keep a chickadee attitude. (Chorus, repeat first verse)
Only after writing the song did I realize that it is an upbeat song in a minor key. Apparently that can work. I don’t get all bothered about anthropomorphism the way some do. Even little kids are able to keep people and animals separate in their minds. The point is to find aspects of ourselves reflected in, and inspired by, wild things. Anthropomorphic characters are more about us than the creatures that serve as masks for our qualities in these cases, and we have a long tradition of folk tales that use this device.