#SaturdaySongs No.13 – Teach Your Children

Just when you thought I might never do another #SaturdaySongs post – it is only seven months since the last one, after all – here’s a brand new one for you. Following on from my previous post, I Hope You Dance, this is also on the theme of families and how they develop through the generations.

If, like me, you watch a lot of music videos on YouTube, you’ve probably followed links to some of their recommendations for you. This one was in mine the other day, from a band I’ve loved ever since their first album all the way back in 1969. This song was actually on their second album, Dejà Vu, by which time they had morphed from being CS&N to CSN&Y, though Neil doesn’t feature much on the original version – it is very much a Graham Nash song:

If you Google the song and follow the various links to sites on which people share their interpretations of songs you will find some weird and wonderful stuff. For me, though, this has always been about how our experiences shape us, how we pass that on as we bring up our children, and how they in turn teach us some lessons about life. In other words, it is about the cyclical nature of life’s experience and how it is interwoven into us, and between us and the ones we love. Given that I became a grandfather just over a fortnight ago, you can probably see why this song says so much to me right now – although, to be fair, it has always seemed to me to be much more profound than it might at first appear. The version I shared is a simple acoustic one, just the three guys with guitars and their amazing harmonies. You may have spotted that the signature sound of the original recording – the pedal steel guitar played by the late, great Jerry Garcia (of a little band called the Grateful Dead) – wasn’t part of that live show. I missed hearing it the first time I played the video – it was, after all, part of the reason for the song being a huge hit single – but I think this stripped-down version really brings home the beauty and the meaning of the song.

One of the hallmarks of a good song is the number of cover versions it inspires, and in particular how closely those covers adhere to the original. Fellow musicians know a good tune when they hear one, although there have been many amazing covers which have completely changed the feel of a song: Joe Cocker’s With A Little Help From My Friends comes to mind – but not Disturbed’s total massacre of The Sound Of Silence! Most of the many cover versions of Teach Your Children are faithful to the original, including the use of the pedal steel. As it is, at heart, a country song, it isn’t surprising that many in that field have covered it. Here’s a lovely version from three of my favourite country musicians:

I think the female harmonies really do the song justice, and it kind of becomes their song while they play it. And on a side note, it’s good to see a former American President singing along – I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t happen now, as the clown in chief doesn’t even know the words to God Bless America, yet claims to be the biggest, most beautiful patriot! Maybe I should exclude him from any analysis of this song, though, as his children aren’t exactly role models, and he himself has been quoted as saying ‘Growing up, I hardly ever saw my father and it hasn’t done me any harm.’ Yeah, right. Never was the inherent truth of Graham Nash’s song so perfectly demonstrated!

There is also this performance, which links the two previous ones. It’s not often that you get to sing a song with the guy who wrote it, and this is another great version, and a lovely video too:

To bring this full circle (before I share every YouTube video I can find!) I’m closing with one more, perhaps the most appropriate of all. Think about the meaning of the song as you watch this video – my guess is that you may have a tear in your eye by the end:

Who needs a pedal steel guitar anyway? The beauty lies in the simplicity, as it does in the acoustic CS&N performance above. I hope those kids are encouraged to learn what the song is about, as they represent our future and will be the ones who put its values into place in their own lives and those of future generations. As Graham Nash has said: ‘I wrote ‘Teach Your Children’ and we have a lot to learn from our kids. We have a lot to teach them, but we do have a lot to learn from our children.’

Teach your children well….and know they love you.


29 thoughts on “#SaturdaySongs No.13 – Teach Your Children

  1. Reblogged this on Take It Easy and commented:

    I’ll be honest with you: the muse isn’t really there at present. Too much real life getting in the way and addling my brain! So I thought I’d stretch your patience with me still further with another from the mine of my back catalogue. This is from a year ago today, and was posted in my now very occasional series of #SaturdaySongs. As it says, it is a companion piece to ‘I Hope You Dance,’ and found me in reflective mood about families, children and life following the birth of my adorable granddaughter. It shows how one simple little song can be imbued with so much meaning and wisdom, and its message is important – and will always be so. If nothing else, there is some lovely music in it!

    I’m hoping very hard that real life will finally start to settle down this week. I’ll tell you all about it when I get the chance 😊


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  3. So pleased to find this, and the day before my sons and grandkids arrive for a visit. I’d like to pick up on this theme in a future post, giving you full credit. I’ve learned vex this song since it first came out and, must add, am very proud to say my sons were big CSN&Y fans themselves. Thank you, Clive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Janet, and thanks for following – tbh I thought you already were! And thanks in advance for any credit you may drop in my direction. I think this may be a developing theme for my blog, too, now that I’ve become a grandparent. But, sadly, my daughters saw my musical tastes as a sign of something to avoid – one of my great failures in life!


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  5. A great post and I enjoyed all the youtube links. A song new to me but now feel as if it’s always been part of me. The last one with the children was wonderful! I like the quote at the end as well; children have so much to teach us and I love learning from them! I remember one busy Saturday when I was cooking dinner.My son (young then) came in and out of the kitchen holding up stones for me to examine. Deciding to delay the meal, I went out with him and really looked at all the stones, the smallest detail, their beauty. A fantastic lesson and precious time together.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it – but what have you been listening to for the past 48 years?! But I’m being unfair to you – sorry! – if we all knew and liked the same music the world would be a very boring place, wouldn’t it. That last video is very sweet, isn’t it, and that’s a lovely story about you learning from your son. We should all do that, before it is too late – they grow up so quickly.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is funny how there are songs we think everyone knows and then find someone who’s never heard of it or even the group. How is that possible! I’ve had this with books/authors too…everyone in the world seemed to have read Charlotte’s Web, whilst I barely knew of it. A treat to read. Oh yes, my son is now a fine tall young man and out till midnight at a Sixth form ball last night … not needing a lift from us parents as his friend, who just got his licence, drove them! The Times they are a changing!

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s odd, but I guess it shows how much variety there is around us in the things we enjoy. Long may that continue! My older daughter passed her driving test first time, which was handy for taking her sister to school but somehow Dad still ended up doing the 2am pick ups, so that she could have a drink! Something that doesn’t change: daughters having their Dads wrapped round their little fingers!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Oddly when I read the ‘I hope you dance’ post I thought of this song …. I’d better post this on the FaceBook page too (and I haven’t forgotten … just lacked time this past week). I loved this post – love the song and that last version made me cry ….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Bernadette. A companion piece to yours from yesterday, I think. I could have gone on at length about the inhumane treatment of children by Trump but didn’t want to unbalance the piece or turn it into a rant. Maybe another time…..

      Liked by 2 people

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