My friend told me that his family has sung the same song for four generations.
It all started in the 1950’s when my friend heard his father sing the song to his mother, when she was upset or sad. My friend called it the “PAL” song. He didn’t know the actual title, but heard his father emphatically accentuate the word “PAL” in the beginning of the song:
“With someone like you – a PAL good and true.
We’ll go and leave it all behind and go and find.
Some place that’s known, to God alone.
Just a spot to call our own.
We’ll find the perfect peace. Where joys never cease.
And let the rest of the world go by…”
The song seemed to work because his mother smiled when his dad finished singing.
Fast Forward. When my friend became a father for the first time, he offered to help his wife by changing their daughter’s diaper, giving her a bath, putting on her nightgown, and tucking her into bed. Between the nightgown and tucking-in steps, he decided to rock his daughter while singing the “PAL” song to her. She seemed to smile when he placed her into the crib.
Even at age two, his daughter wanted to hear the “PAL” song before she went to sleep. Her brother was born a few months later. My friend repeated the bed-time process: diaper change, bath, nightgown, rocking chair & singing the “PAL” song, before tucking his newborn son into the crib. My friend then had to go to his daughter’s room to sing the “PAL” song, before she went to sleep.
And, so it went, every night, for 6 continuous years, until his final two sons were born, two years apart. The same nighttime changing, bathing, nightgown, rocking, singing, tucking-in process continued. My friend sang the “PAL” song every night, for over a decade. (His daughter performed the bedtime rituals when her parents needed a night out.)
Fast Forward. At my friend’s daughters’ Wedding Rehearsal Dinner, he spontaneously decided to instruct his Son-in-Law to sing the “PAL” song to his new wife when she would get upset or be sad. (My friend assured the groom that those occurrences would happen.) The “PAL” song was the only antidote. (The Son-in-Law thanked my friend years later.) So, my friend sang the “PAL” song at each of his three son’s Wedding Rehearsal Dinners.
While singing the song, at his last son’s Rehearsal Dinner, my friend’s voice began to falter. Perhaps, the flood of collective memories of singing the “PAL” song was emotionally overwhelming, so his voice began to crack and weaken. Just then, a strong, young, pitch-perfect, female voice sang every word, with him, without missing a beat. (Akin, to Julie Andrews helping Christopher Plummer finish singing “Edelweiss” in the “Sound of Music”.) Only, this voice was my friend’s 14-year-old granddaughter’s. (Her great-grandfather would have been so proud.)
It was the best rendition of the “PAL” song ever – judging by the decibel level of the applause, the amount of tears shed, and the smile on my friend’s face.
Recent Renditions: My friend’s entire family celebrated his eldest Son’s 43rd birthday. His son loves playing the guitar. So, my friend hired 2 guitar players to play requests from the guests at the party. When all the requests & guests were exhausted, and ready to leave, the guitar players had a “Surprise” gift. They began playing the “PAL” song. Within a few notes, the room was filled with different decades of voices sing those precious lyrics. (In the same month, the family celebrated my friend’s 73rd birthday, singing the “PAL” song, with smiles all around.
N. B. The song’s actual title is: “And Let the Rest of the World Go By” – written & recorded in 1919. It was re-recorded by Gene Autry in the 1940’s, and again by Willie Nelson in the 1990’s. My friend heard his father sing it in the 1950’s. He sang it to his children in the 1970’s & 1980’s as babies. And then sang it at their weddings in the 21st century. It was recently sung at family birthday parties in 2019, a hundred years after it was written.
Sometimes, the thread that holds relationships together can be as simple as singing, a timeless song, for generations.