Sunday, March 21, 2010

Call and Response

The Baby Shriek gets more popular by the day around here. In fact, it's pretty much replaced laughing as the top indicator that NJ is having a good time. It's definitely been established as the bridge to NJ's not having any speaking skills at all and her uttering her first words. She's now using her shriek to respond to us verbally ("verbally" being used loosely here).

Today, as Dad Solo went through the laborious process of making his fabled Pork and Black-Eyed Pea Chili -- it takes a long time, but Son of a Bee Sting! is it worth it -- he often ducked into the living room and called out to NJ, who was goofing around on the couch with The Wife. Once I got NJ's attention I'd scream some nonsense sounds and the Smile That Slays Me would spread across her face, then she'd let loose with a good 20-second shriek of her own.

This is arguably the most famous example of Call and Response in modern music (starting at the 2.26 mark, although if you skip ahead and don't listen to the entire thing, well then ... no offense, but I really have to wonder if you're a patriotic American). It literally makes me feel good just to hear it. Of course, blues -- and, by extension, its offspring, rock and roll -- is based on chord repetition and call and response. If you've ever seen the Stones play live, you know how good Mick is at leading a call-and-response during "Brown Sugar" and "You Can't Always Get What You Want," among others. So maybe NJ has it in her bones and blood already: After all, she naps to lullaby renditions of Zeppelin, Stones and U2 songs.

Still, as charming and life-affirming as the Raylettes are, I'll take NJ's call-and-response shrieking any day. Now, she loves it when I sing to her -- honestly! -- and that's doubled the number of people who enjoy my dulcet tones (I'm the other fan). And lately both me and The Wife have been doing our best to talk to her using short, easily understandable words so she can, you know, eventually learn to talk. But it's a hell of a lot of fun to give her a little scream, then sit back and wait for the smile and the response.

What'd I say, indeed.

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