Tuesday, April 15, 2008

She's The Best One That We've Ever Had

OK, so let me just say right up front that those of you who are already familiar with the songs of Dar Williams are a thousand times cooler than me. First of all, how big a victory is that? And secondly, are you surprised? Since 90% of the time that I listen to music, it's the music that they play on XMKids, I'm pretty much relying on them for my music library. Which means that I know all the words to the 50-year-old version of "If I Knew You Were Coming (I'd Have Baked A Cake)," but not much about, say, Vampire Weekend's current single.

So, even though this song is not "new," it's fairly new to me. They just started playing it on XMKids, so I just heard it for the first time recently. And it made me cry, much to the bafflement of my daughter, who has never had a babysitter in her life.

It's the end of "The Babysitter's Here" that gets me every time:

"...'cause she's leaving me...

You're the best on that we've ever had;
You sit on her hair and you're tall as my dad;
And I'll make you a picture for college next year;
So hush, now, peace, man, the babysitter's here.

The best babysitter's here."

How about you? Did you have a "best" babysitter, one that really made a fond place in your memory? Because I did. It was 1975 or '76, I was nine years old, and my sister was four. The babysitter's name was Trella Yates*, and she was THE BEST BABYSITTER EVER. She had bright red hair and an easy smile, and seemed, to me, to be able to do anything in the world. She lived in a big old farm-style house with a wraparound porch and warm wood floors and what seemed to me like a dozen siblings. She made snickerdoodles and played the piano while we sang songs like "Put Your Hand In The Hand (Of The Man From Gallilea)."

We lived in Fayetteville. We had no money, and ALL the happiness. If you know what became of Trella, (*Yes, that is her real name, and she'd be in her late 40's or so now--find her!) or you know her now, would you pass on a message, from me to her?

She's the best one that we ever had.


  1. I *wish* I'd had a Trella. The only babysitter I remember was the one who blocked my brother and me out of the kitchen with a chair so she could sit on the phone all night with her boyfriend.

    Oh, and I guess there was another one who broke into the creme de menthe and let me sit in a dirty diaper for four hours, so my mom says. I think that might be why my parents didn't go out a lot. ;)

  2. Dar rules. Her song "Echoes" is an anthem for me.

  3. First of all - just read your Fayetteville post and now I'm so homesick. (Lived in "Fateville"for 11 years before moving to Philly.)

    Second- I had heard of Dar, but never actually heard one of her songs. Thanks for the intro.

  4. The best one I ever had was named Angie 2 ( Angie 1 was a nightmare). Angie 2 taught me how to braid her hair, walked me to her immigrant Mother's house for home made Italian meals, and let me have a crush on her boyfriend Chris. She was very, very patient with the ADD addled me. I loved her.

  5. I actually heard that song on my iPod while grocery shopping in Fayetteville and bawled right there in front of the potato bins. I'm glad someone else understands why.

  6. Awww this is so sweet! And Belinda, if you go find Vampire Weekend, you might like them, I swear! :)

  7. I told you on twitter that I had heard this song and it got me all teary too. My cousins were my babysitters and I adored my oldest cousin the most. Sometimes I wish my kids could have a babysitter like this but I don't have the network to find them one...it feels like they are missing out on something, you know?

  8. Belinda, several years ago, we attended an all-region choir festival or something akin to that and Trella was there, conducting her choir. I don't remember what town she was in. Perhaps Andrea will remember. But we made a point to speak to the "best babysitter ever" and reminisce. She still had the bright red hair and apparently was still immersed in her music. You might search under high school choir directors.

    Your Mom

  9. jenny -- during that same time period, we also had a "Karen." She didn't last long, because she was HORRID. Which may go a long way toward explaining how in love we were with Trella.

    kyran - I spent quite some time on YouTube listening to her music the other night after @nazgul on Twitter pointed me in the right direction. She has a song about therapy, "What Do You Hear In These Sounds?" that I particularly liked.

    allisone - Fayetteville is pretty special, isn't it? You can't really explain it to folks who haven't been there.

    avalon - Thank goodness for Angie 2! I had another great 70's teenage sitter the next year, named Janice, who let me crush on her boyfriend, Russell. I named my gerbils after the two of them. ;-)

    meghan - I KNOW! When I read the lyrics, I think, "What is my deal with this song? It's not really SAD." But then I hear it, and I get all choked up.

    Karen - I LOVE Vampire Weekend! But how did I find them? A few weeks ago, @dacort on Twitter posted a link to their MySpace page. (Later, I was thrilled to have actually heard of someone who was performing on SNL, for once.) Yup, I am alllll kinds of connected. I need those of you who listen to more than XMKids to keep giving me listening suggestions.

    sleeping mommy - I know. I'm certain that if I tried, I could find someone good to sit for Bella...but I just don't.

    My mom looked someone up on FACEBOOK. I think part of the universe just collapsed on itself somewhere. Did you feel that? But now I'll be messaging that person!

  10. I'm so excited for you to find her!

    Our best ever was Maryange...(pronounced Mary Aunge). I have no idea what happened to her, but I heard she joined the military. That was in the 80s.

  11. I was never very fond of any of our babysitters (OK, Denise Hill was great -- took us for bike rides in the cemetery and showed us how to make a cup out of a piece of paper), but that song made me cry anyway. Poignant.

  12. I used to go to college and later live where Dar calls home, and I have probably seen her a dozen times. That never stops me from crying and getting goosebumps every single time I see or hear her.

    When I was a boy is my favorite.

  13. Velma and not from the Scooby Doo show. Velma was Mexican and lived in a Spanish neighborhood and let us go to the corner shop and buy stuff and then let us speak Spanish to her (she was instructed to only speak it by our mother) and she was warm and kind and fantastically fun.

    I want to go find her now.

  14. Dar Williams is one of my favorites and this song makes me cry. If you like that one you will love, "When I Was a Boy." OH MY GOODNESS! Makes me bawl like a baby :)

    Love you, dearie!