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Changing the ABC song a big mistake

First the Big Mac and now this? Leave the classics alone

Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 5/11/2019 (277 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Call me a cantankerous old geezer with too much time on his hands, but I hate it when someone monkeys around with a classic.

For example, given my legendary love of all things bacon, you would have thought I’d have been deliriously happy when McDonald’s decided to add bacon to the Big Mac.

But I wasn’t. No, I was extremely annoyed. Yes, I love bacon, but I am also a purist and the Big Mac was perfectly fine the way it was. Adding bacon did not make the Big Mac better; it just made it different, which is not a good thing when you are talking about a classic.

It’s even worse when someone decides to meddle with a classic tune. I hate to say anything negative about Bob Dylan — especially because the editor of this section is a big fan — but a few years back my wife and I attended a Dylan concert and became confused when he played a song we had never heard.

Then, about three-quarters of the way through the tune, my wife turned to me and chirped: "OHMYGAWD! He’s singing Like a Rolling Stone."

And he was, but, apparently because he has become so bored with this rock classic, one of the greatest songs in history, he completely changed the tune to the point where it was unrecognizable to our amateur ears.

That was bad enough, but I suspect you are going to become unhinged when I tell you that someone has been monkeying around with arguably the most classic tune of all time, by which I mean the ABC Song, also known as the Alphabet Song.

I know you know what song I am talking about. This is the childhood classic — earworm, if you prefer — that for more than 100 years has been teaching kids, including myself, the alphabet’s order.

It has that unmistakable melody wherein you sing all the letters — "A-B-C-E... and so on and so forth" — and then at the end most of us add this bit: "Now I know my ABCs, next time won’t you sing with me."

The best part of the song — it’s trademark, if you will — has always been the "L-M-N-O-P’ section wherein we traditionally sing those five letters so quickly that it smushes them together into something that sounds like: "ELLEMENOPEE!"

If you are anything like me, that is your favourite part of the ABC Song. When I was a kid, my classmates and I would belt out "ELLEMENOPEE!" at a decibel level that would cause the ears of the kids in the classroom next door to start bleeding. It was wonderful.

I always thought of it in the same way I thought of that part of the classic Christmas carol Deck The Halls, wherein, even if I could not recall the rest of the lyrics, I could always remember to shriek "FA LA LA LA LA!" as if my life depended on it.

But now (and you might want to sit down before you read this next part), someone is trying to take our "ELLEMENOPEE" away from us.

Apparently in an effort to make the alphabet easier to learn for new English speakers, Dream English Kids, which produces educational music for kids, has released a slowed-down remix of our beloved song that drastically changes the tempo and has caused the internet to explode in rage.

In their version, the tempo is slowed down and the rhythm rejigged, but the worst part is it takes away "ELLEMENOPEE" by giving each of those letters room to breathe and (gasp!) leaving a long pause after the "N," rather than the "P" where it is supposed to be. It no longer trips off the tongue.

As a public service, I listened to their remixed ABC Song and it left me totally discombobulated, and not in a good way.

Dream English Kids first posted their remix on YouTube in 2012 to little fanfare, but comedian Noah Garfinkel ignited a social-media firestorm late last month when he posted the video on his Twitter account along with this cranky note: "They changed the ABC song to clarify the LMNOP part, and it is life ruining."

 

Based on responses I have read online, pretty much everyone agrees with Garfinkel’s assessment that taking away our "ELLEMENOPEE" poses a huge threat to civilization as we know it.

"They can pry the original LMNOP out of my cold dead hands," is what one person wrote in a tweet that received more than 2,000 likes and about 100 retweets.

"At first I just couldn’t follow along after ‘M,’ now I just can’t read," another Twitter user complained.

Yet another angry LMNOP fan put it more succinctly: "This is how riots begin."

Here’s what my wife, the person who informed me about this shocking change, said: "I hate it! They should leave the ABC Song alone. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!"

So today, as a rapidly aging newspaper columnist, I have decided to take a courageous stand (draw a line in the alphabet, if you will) and demand that these upstart educational types keep their (bad word) hands off our ABC Song.

I think I speak for most Canadians when I say the Alphabet Song is arguably the only song in the world to which most of us can remember all of the words.

I’m not kidding when I say that most Canadians cannot remember any song more complicated than Happy Birthday, and even then most of us get halfway through the song and can’t remember the name of the person whose birthday we are supposed to be celebrating.

If you have ever attended a sporting event, you will know we can’t even recall the words to our national anthem, which leads us to mumble: "O Canada ... True patriot love dum dum dum dum de dum ... With glowing hearts dum dum de dum ... We stand on cars and freeze!"

Given our inability to learn new tunes, I have the following two-letter message for anyone who wants to mess with our classic ABC melody: "N-O!"

In other words, and L-M-N-O-Please pay attention, what I’m trying to say is this: "FA LA LA LA LA!"

Thank you.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Doug Speirs

Doug Speirs
Columnist

Doug has held almost every job at the newspaper — reporter, city editor, night editor, tour guide, hand model — and his colleagues are confident he’ll eventually find something he is good at.

Read full biography

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