It’s hard for me to imagine life without music. I listen to music all the time—in my car on the way to work, while I study, in the shower. I’m pretty much a human jukebox, and a lot of the songs on my playlists eventually become white noise. But one song in particular always makes me stop and listen. It’s my favorite song of all time. Its simplicity and loveliness gets me every time. This is that song.
I love this song, and every time I hear it, I get an image in my head. I see two children, a boy and a girl, of about five years old. They’re in school uniforms, the girl in a plaid jumper and the boy in the uniform shorts. They are totally oblivious, intent only upon their own little world. Everything is new and interesting; they have no sense of time, no worries or cares. The children in the song skip through life, I know they do. They sing to themselves and have imaginations and ask a lot of questions. They are mischievous and inquisitive and cheerful. They’re just happy. Making friends with the world is easy when you’re only five years old.
In essence, this song reminds me of my own childhood. It makes me feel happy and nostalgic. It reminds me of me and my brother running around in our backyard, digging holes and picking flowers and imagining all sorts of things in the clouds. I don’t want to brag or anything, but my brother and I were pretty awesome kids. When we were little, we were really blonde and wore lots of cute kid clothing—dirndls and dresses for me, sweater vests and collared shirts for him. One of our mom’s friends used to call us Hansel and Gretel, which I now find hilarious. Anyway, imagination was a huge part of our childhood. We could play for hours with sticks or a pile of leaves or a bucket. We had actual toys, but they weren’t nearly as fun. When I was seven, we spent the whole summer digging a trench in our backyard. This “trench” was my brother’s idea and you would have thought it was the world’s biggest project. It was behind our play set and you had to jump across it to get to the holly tree where we would hide from our invisible enemies. In the end, the trench was about four feet long and two feet deep, but we were so proud of it. Being little, outside, with your sibling and your imagination and some dirt and pirate and princess costumes was the best thing in the whole wide world. No parents, just a children’s world filled with imagination, adventure and love.
So yeah, in two minutes, the White Stripes get it right. They get the simplicity, the joy, the innocence, the love, the laughter. In my humble opinion, this is the most perfect expression in song of the most perfect time of life. Clearly, Winnie-the-Pooh and The Wind in the Willows are the most perfect literary expressions of childhood, and I can’t help but want to go drag my copies off the shelf and lose myself in the Hundred Acre Woods with Pooh and Piglet and Tigger and the Wild Wood with Rat and Mole and Badger. It’s so important to not fight childhood when it appears in our adult lives. We need to let the “silly thoughts run through our heads” so we don’t become too serious. So hold hands with an old friend, or find a new one and remember that there’s always time for laughter and imagination.