A child’s garden of songs, inspired by
the poems of Robert Louis Stevenson
Once upon a time, parents read their children bedtime stories, sang lullabyes and read them nursery rhymes. Some still do. In the late 1950’s, my mom, who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, sang to me anyway, and I thought it sounded beautiful. Every night, she sat on the edge of my bed at bedtime with a book. She read me stories of Raggedy Ann and Babar the Elephant and Curious George and Timothy Turtle, and the poems of Robert Louis Stevenson.
In 1988, my daughter Caitlin was 3 years old. Every night, her mom sat on the edge of her bed at bedtime with a book. She read Caitlin stories of Winnie the Pooh and Bartholomew Cubbins and Goodnight Moon and Chinese folktales and the poems of Robert Louis Stevenson.
Not being one to miss a story, I sat in the corner, playing soft background music on my guitar, and slowly but surely began composing tunes for the Stevenson poems. They became Caitlin’s bedtime lullabyes, and she grew up thinking that A Child’s Garden of Verses was a collection of Robert Louis Stevenson songs when, in fact, there was no real collection of Robert Louis Stevenson songs — and she was the only one who had ever heard the single-verse ditties.
Then 16 years went by, and Caitlin became a singer, and we now had a reason to turn those old lullabye ditties into real songs. It is a privilege for us to be able to introduce these poems to a new generation of parents and their kids, but this is just a taste. Get a copy of the complete collection of “A Child’s Garden of Verses,” by Robert Louis Stevenson. Read them aloud, to yourself and to your kids. The music of Stevenson’s poetry and the gentle poignancy of his child’s perspective touches something timeless within us all, even as it transports us back to another time, when heroes came “home from the Indies and home from the ocean,” and mother comes in to “blow out the light.”
Stevenson wrote these poems in the late 19th century, at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution — before radio, before electric lights, before telephones, before automobiles — when an active imagination was the most versatile toy a child could own. Now, in a 21st century filled with electronic games and carefully scripted play groups, programs and events that occupy every hour of a child’s day, it’s worthwhile to take a moment now and again and pretend. Pretend that what if just might be. Just make believe…
My thanks to Randy Leipnik, at Semper Records, who hears things beyond the range of mortal ears, and to Dan, Paul and Keith for making the music shine. Thanks to Anne Costello for color, composition and timeless cool. And thanks to Robert, in a land and time far far away.
Caitlin and I dedicate this CD, with love, to our moms, who never got tired of reading to us.
Steve Klaper, November 2004
released November 1, 2004
Steve Klaper: Guitars, Harmonica, Vocals
Caitlin M.G. Klaper: Vocals
Randy Leipnik: Keyboards
Dan Kolton: Bass, Cello
Paul Vornhagen: Flutes, Sax
Keith Beber: Percussion
Music & Arrangements © 1988, 2005 by Steve Klaper / Ashira Music (BMI)
Lyrics from “A Child’s Garden of Verses” by Robert Louis Stevenson
Produced by Randy Leipnik, Semper Records, Oak Park, MI
Art by Anne Costello
all rights reserved