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Song Spotlight: “Swingin’ in a Hammock”

  • Mood: Relaxed
  • Themes: Relaxation, Romance, Vacation, Leisure
  • Tempo: Slow rocking feel to moderate
  • Genre/style: 1930s popular

Okay, I know that summer is pretty much over for school-aged kids, but it’s still pretty warm here in Kansas City, and summer won’t officially end for over a month. That means I feel justified sharing a song that I think perfectly describes the lazy, hazy days of summer: “Swingin’ in a Hammock.”

This song is one that I learned from a client. This man often sings me snippets of old popular tunes, then I track them down so he can hear all the lyrics again and we can sing the song together. He had me stymied for a while with this one, though, as he was remembering only a few words at a time. Finally, Google led me to the National Library of Australia and a digital copy of the sheet music for “Swingin’ in a Hammock,” written in 1930 by Pete Wendling. This song was later recorded by Guy Lombardo, whose charming version you can hear on YouTube. (I also found a fascinating version of this song on a player piano roll. Watch the video just to see how the piano roll works. P. S. The lyrics are in time with the melody, karaoke-style.)

I tend to play this song at a leisurely, rocking pace, while the recordings I found are a bit more jaunty. Either way, this song just sounds like summertime and, evokes summer’s carefree, leisurely, young love. The imagery in this song also portrays the sights and feelings of being in a hammock. My favorite musical moment is the two words in the middle of this phrase: “And we go high, low, playing peek-a-boo with all the stars up in the sky.” If you are swaying along with the music, the rhythm helps you sense exactly what that “high-low” sensation of being in a hammock feels like.

In fact, one of the best ways to enjoy this song, in my opinion, is to hold the hands of the person you are listening with and sway your arms together in time with the music. This reinforces the swaying hammock idea and gives you both some safe and gentle physical contact. (Of course, be aware of any skin tears, tight muscles, or other conditions that might make the other person uncomfortable. You can always tap the other person’s hand gently in time with the music.)

Interested in starting a discussion? Here are some questions to get you started:

1. Have you ever been in a hammock? Where? When? With someone special?

2. I can imagine swinging in a hammock on an island somewhere. Have you ever traveled someplace like that? (Ask about tropical vacations or summertime travels.)

3. What did you do together with your sweetheart when you were young and first in love?

What do you think? Do you enjoy hammocks? What other relaxing, vacation-type songs do you enjoy?

This post is part of an occasional series on special songs to share with your loved ones. For more song spotlights, click here.

5 comments… add one
  • Such a sweet song! A music therapist friend and I were humming to the Youtube from your site this morning =) Ahhhhhhh…. I might just go nap in the hammock now…..

    • soundscapemusictherapy

      Isn’t that a great song? I’m glad you liked it! (P.S. I’m jealous that you have a hammock to nap in!)

  • My father, aged 92 in a nursing home with Parkinson’s and some dementia, was singing this last weekend! My mother, also 92 and still in her own home, doesn’t know how he remembers this as he never sang it that she remembers! Thanks for the sheet music as I am sending it up to him because he couldn’t remember ALL of the lyrics but liked the look on everyone’s face (including the aides) when he talked about the blue bird keeping a look out while they were making love! 😉

    • That’s awesome, Pam! I had a similar funny experience with a 90+ year old client of mine – the only line he could remember was that same one about the blue bird.

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