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Top 10 Most Beautiful Lullabies

October 09, 2011

I'm a sucker for a good lullaby. A few years ago (um... eleven), I came across a CD of lullabies from around the world that can still calm me in an instant. I was in my mid-twenties and looking for a few soothing sleep-helpers amidst the roller-coaster experiences inherent in that age and my new life as a performing arts student in Boulder, Colorado (fun times). That's when I discovered chamomile tea, lavender bouquets, mobiles (I made my own from sticks and feathers and things I found in my neighborhood) and this CD, On A Starry Night.

Years later, thinking about the soothing love-filled melodies inspired me to compile a list of top ten most beautiful lullabies. Most are my own personal favorites, but I got a little help from my friends, too.

10. Hush Little Baby

A natural, this song is one of the first I ever learned. I think I first heard it in preschool. I remember straining to learn the lyrics.

9. Go To Sleep You Little Baby

Another classic, this americana ballad provides an irresistible foundation for stacks and stacks of gorgeous harmony. I particularly like the version sung by Alison Kraus, Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, and Patty Griffin. Here's a link to a YouTube video of the Go to Sleep You Little Baby sung by the first three. This song is also featured in the Coen Brothers' film O Brother, Where Art Thou.

8. Brahm's Lullaby (aka Cradle Song)

I never knew what this song was called until I started digging around for my friends' favorite lullabies, too. And lo and behold...

7. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

"...up above the world so high like a diamond in the sky..." And though this video does not feature the song, it captures the spirit and is a stellar beginning animator's work. Enjoy!

6. Hey Jude

Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and tweaked for John's son Julian, this is the lullaby my friend Julien was sung as a child by his mother. A very nice bedtime soother, I think.

5. Frere Jacques (Are You Sleeping)

This is a favorite of my friend Danette and is sung perfectly (or at least very sweetly) by this two-year-old (whom I do not know, but rather just stumbled upon on YouTube).

4. Baby Mine

This heartbreaker from Disney's Dumbo is not only something I'd love to sing to children, but I also added it to my jazz/lounge set list a while back (I'm a singer, too). You can really "smoke" this one up with a little trombone and a husky voice, which makes it a little less of a tear-jerker (but not much).

3. Dream A Little Dream

Made famous by Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and Doris Day, among others, this is a real sweetie. My friend Pam sings the Mamma Cass (The Mamas & The Pappas) version to her girls all the time! I first remember hearing this song when I was eleven-years-old in the "two Corey's" hit film of the same name. It probably stuck in my memory because I had a huge crush on Corey Haim (I'm sure I'm the only one).

2. Common Threads

Written and performed by Bobby McFerrin and featured on the A Starry Night CD, I had not listened to this song for many years when one day recently my boyfriend (a #1 caliber McFerrin fan) put it on while I was distracted by something else. The whole world melted for a moment! There I was in that huge house with a bunch of other college students, having painted by room like a sky and sipping chamomile the night before a big show...

1. Kothbiro

Seldom has any song been on repeat so often and continuously in my home. A song from Kenya about children bringing in cattle from the rain as performed by Ayub Ogada is among my favorites of all time for its soothing melody, imbera-plucked counter-melody, and lilting vocal delivery. I can listen to it for hours (and have). You may recognize it from the soundtrack to The Constant Gardener, though it was already around a long time before the film.