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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

‘Child’s Song’: An Anthem For Moving On From Singer Tom Rush

Singer-songwriter Tom Rush. (Muffett/Flickr)

Singer-songwriter Tom Rush. (Muffett/Flickr)

We speak with singer-songwriter Tom Rush about his 1970 version of  “Child’s Song”, written by Canadian folk singer, Murray McLauchlan.

The song is about a young man leaving home, and it has become a concert staple for Rush and a graduation season classic.

“Child’s Song” Lyrics, by Murray McLauchlan


Goodbye momma goodbye to you too pa
Little sister you’ll have to wait a while to come along
Goodybye to this house and all it’s memories

We just got too old to say we’re wrong
Got to make one last trip to my bedroom
Guess I’ll have to leave some stuff behind

It’s funny how the same old crooked pictures
Just don’t seem the same to me tonight
There ain’t no use in sheding lonely tears mamma

There ain’t no use in shouting at me pa
I can’t live no longer with your fears mamma
I love you but that hasn’t helped at all

Each of us must do the things that matter
All of us must see what we can see
It was long ago you must remember

You were once as young and scared as me
I don’t know how hard it is yet mamma
When you relaize you’re growning old

I know how hard is not to be younger
I know you’ve tried to keep me from the cold
Thanks for all you done it may sound hollow

Thank you for the good times that we’ve known
But I must find my own road now to follow
You will all be welcome in my home

Got my suitacse I must go now
I don’t mind about the things you said
I’m sorry Mom I don’t know where I’m going

Remember little sister look ahead
Tomorrow I’ll be in some other sunrise
Maybe I’ll have someone at my side

Mamma give your love back to your husband
Father you’ve have taught we well goodbye
Goodbye Mamma goodbye to you too pa
Goodbye momma goodbye to you too pa

Little sister you’ll have to wait a while to come along
Goodybye to this house and all it’s memories
We just got too old to say we’re wrong

Got to make one last trip to my bedroom
Guess I’ll have to leave some stuff behind
It’s funny how the same old crooked pictures

Just don’t seem the same to me tonight
There ain’t no use in sheding lonely tears mamma
There ain’t no use in shouting at me pa

I can’t live no longer with your fears mamma
I love you but that hasn’t helped at all
Each of us must do the things that matter

All of us must see what we can see
It was long ago you must remember
You were once as young and scared as me

I don’t know how hard it is yet mamma
When you relaize you’re growning old
I know how hard is not to be younger

I know you’ve tried to keep me from the cold
Thanks for all you done it may sound hollow
Thank you for the good times that we’ve known

But I must find my own road now to follow
You will all be welcome in my home
Got my suitacse I must go now

I don’t mind about the things you said
I’m sorry Mom I don’t know where I’m going
Remember little sister look ahead

Tomorrow I’ll be in some other sunrise
Maybe I’ll have someone at my side
Mamma give your love back to your husband
Father you’ve have taught we well goodbye
Goodbye Mamma goodbye to you too pa


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  • Catherine

    Why not write out the lyrics?  Some of us have hearing loss and I could not understand all the words in the song.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Catherine,
      We’ve posted the lyrics above, thanks for pointing this out.
      Cheers,
      Jill Ryan, Here & Now

  • Bob in Brooklyn

    I’ve tried to sing this song many, many times and never get as far as the third verse… I have a 14-year-old daughter and every time I play it I see her as a baby, toddler, child and teen as I watch her disappear down the road. Thank you for bring us this moving classic.

  • a mom

    Just a few weeks ago I listened to this song and barely got through it.  It brings me to my knees, esp. when I think of my child going off to college soon.  Thank you for sharing this.

  • Sarah Bopp

    It’s perfect. Perfect. It’s hard to grow up, it’s hard to let go. I just can’t express how lovely this song is. I will introduce this song to my future children, niece’s and nephews. As long as children grow up, this song will be relevant.

  • Sarah Bopp

    I was on my way to a business meeting when I heard this story. As I widen my eyes trying not to burst into tears, here are the lyrics for those not yet ready to listen:

    Child’s Song

    Goodbye momma goodbye to you too pa
    Little sister you’ll have to wait a while to come along
    Goodybye to this house and all it’s memories
    We just got too old to say we’re wrong
    Got to make one last trip to my bedroom
    Guess I’ll have to leave some stuff behind
    It’s funny how the same old crooked pictures
    Just don’t seem the same to me tonight
    There ain’t no use in sheding lonely tears mamma
    There ain’t no use in shouting at me pa
    I can’t live no longer with your fears mamma
    I love you but that hasn’t helped at all
    Each of us must do the things that matter
    All of us must see what we can see
    It was long ago you must remember
    You were once as young and scared as me
    I don’t know how hard it is yet mamma
    When you relaize you’re growning old
    I know how hard is not to be younger
    I know you’ve tried to keep me from the cold
    Thanks for all you done it may sound hollow
    Thank you for the good times that we’ve known
    But I must find my own road now to follow
    You will all be welcome in my home
    Got my suitacse I must go now
    I don’t mind about the things you said
    I’m sorry Mom I don’t know where I’m going
    Remember little sister look ahead
    Tomorrow I’ll be in some other sunrise
    Maybe I’ll have someone at my side
    Mamma give your love back to your husband
    Father you’ve have taught we well goodbye
    Goodbye Mamma goodbye to you too pa

    Goodbye momma goodbye to you too pa
    Little sister you’ll have to wait a while to come along
    Goodybye to this house and all it’s memories
    We just got too old to say we’re wrong
    Got to make one last trip to my bedroom
    Guess I’ll have to leave some stuff behind
    It’s funny how the same old crooked pictures
    Just don’t seem the same to me tonight
    There ain’t no use in sheding lonely tears mamma
    There ain’t no use in shouting at me pa
    I can’t live no longer with your fears mamma
    I love you but that hasn’t helped at all
    Each of us must do the things that matter
    All of us must see what we can see
    It was long ago you must remember
    You were once as young and scared as me
    I don’t know how hard it is yet mamma
    When you relaize you’re growning old
    I know how hard is not to be younger
    I know you’ve tried to keep me from the cold
    Thanks for all you done it may sound hollow
    Thank you for the good times that we’ve known
    But I must find my own road now to follow
    You will all be welcome in my home
    Got my suitacse I must go now
    I don’t mind about the things you said
    I’m sorry Mom I don’t know where I’m going
    Remember little sister look ahead
    Tomorrow I’ll be in some other sunrise
    Maybe I’ll have someone at my side
    Mamma give your love back to your husband
    Father you’ve have taught we well goodbye
    Goodbye Mamma goodbye to you too pa

    • Anonymous

      thanks Sarah, we’ve also posted the lyrics above.
      -Jill Ryan, Here & Now

      • English teacher

        Could you please fix the typos in the “official” posting? Thanks, An English teacher

  • Judi Kloper

     When I left New England to attend college in Colorado, back in 1972, I left the words to this song on my dresser right where I knew my mom would find it after I was gone.  I actually had prepared her for my departure by playing this song over and over, loudly, on the stereo.  She never said a word to me about it, but it had expressed so well what I was feeling as a 17 year old going out into the world on my terms, not my family’s.  I still play it now and then, and especially after each of my kids have graduated high school and college.  One child graduated last week, and is off to Asia for a year.  Just hearing Tom sing this as I drove home a little while ago brought tears to my eyes as I remember my own leaving home and the look of both sadness and pride on my mom’s face, and now watching my own child, fourth out of five, head out for a life of opportunity and adventure.  Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to hear Tom sing it again.  

  • Donpastor2003

    I heard Tom Rush sing Murray McLaughlan’s “Old Man Song” on progressive radio and wanted his self-titled album back when it first received airplay.  I listened to the last cut on that album, and it grabbed me even more.  The oftener I played “Child Song,” the more profound it grew.  What I miss is the horn instrumental, it not only carries the haunted feeling of the lyrics but deepens that feeling.  Departure does haunt; the song tells it.  It’s a classic and a keeper!

  • rlc

    Two days after hearing Tom do ChildSong in concert (back in ’68 or ’69)
    I remember very clearly going home briefly from college, walking into my bedroom, and, with ChildSong running on my mental tape loop, being both shocked and saddened to realize that indeed “the same old crooked pictures / just don’t seem the same to me tonight.” 

  • Joe

    I was deeply moved by the words of the song. This is the first time hearing it. I could not get out of my car until the song was over. I have said farewell to two of my children. My wife and I shed tears on the way back after dropping them off at college. This song evokes powerful feelings, feelings almost indescribable for those who nurtured their children in love and discipline. We can only say “Goodbye, and see you soon!” 

  • David Naylor

    I am 45…how have I never heard this song? It doesn’t matter, because it was custom-designed for me today. My daughter marries on Friday, a marriage that I am not ready to bless. I heard her voice singing to me, the next-to-last line bringing some comfort and strength to let her go. Thanks for the raw bravery in sharing this on the show. 

  • Susan D

    I was fortunate enough as a young teenager to have a ground-breaking “progressive” radio station, WHFS in my town of Washington, DC.  This song brought me to tears back then, and it still does today.  I never knew that Murray McLauchlin wrote the lyrics – what a great surprise.  Thank you for Tom’s lovely performance and for his insights into how this song was introduced to him.  As always, excellent radio programming!

  • Mobgarvey11

    Our son left for the Peace Corps to volunteer in Burkina Faso, Africa on June 7, 2010. He has about another year and a half to go. Although I see more holy quests in store for me and my husband, his leaving/your song twanged my heart strings. Nice!

  • Fmdeleo

    The song caught me quite unaware after a very long day.  I  just could not contain the tears. I remembered that I played this very song to my mom on the Zenith record player on vinyl the day I left home.
    Too much acrimony, recrimination etc. It was time to move out.
    This was about 1971.
    I have always loved this song, and now that my son is leaving for school this brought it all back.
    Thanks for a great radio program and the memories

  • Dave

    It’s a great song and Tom sings it just as powerful as he did 40 years ago. His voice is truly amazing. Robin this was one of your most enjoyable and unforgettable shows.  

  • cheryl

    wonderful show today, robin. I recently saw tom rush in haverhill, new hampshire, where he sang this song…we cried there, too!

  • Jancathip

    I can’t listen to this song -I SOB every time I hear it. That’s what great art does!

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