EDITORIAL: The First Song My Daughter Ever Heard


Less than a week before Valentine’s Day in 2012, my girlfriend and I found out that we were going to be having a baby. A couple days later we went to San Francisco to see Anthony Green and The Dear Hunter which marked our daughter’s first concert (technically). She was just a tiny little near-formless shrimp at the time but hopefully some day when she’s older she’ll be happy about the fact that her first live musical experience in utero was with the aforementioned greats.

It wasn’t too long after that concert that the situation started becoming a reality. As morning sickness was in full swing and we started buying baby items in preparation, we had to consider what our birthing plan would be, which up until that point had barely crossed our minds. We were turned onto a documentary by a friend, entitled The Business of Being Born, which really opened our eyes to options we hadn’t considered or even been entirely aware of. We immediately began discussing a natural birth and in no time at all had decided that if possible that was the route we felt more comfortable taking.

One of the big perks of having a natural birth is the freedom involved. You’re in control of the situation and are allowed to organize your birthing plan in any way that works best for you and your partner. One of the first things I considered, naturally, was what kind of music we would want playing during labor and the birth itself. Of course, this was more up to my girlfriend than myself as she was the one that would have to endure the all-natural, drug-free pain. She trusted my musical intuition, however, and allowed me to choose what I felt best suited the tone and mood of the occasion. As much as labor and birth could be viewed ostensibly as a barbarous event that would warrant something as heavy and intense as say Animosity or Ion Dissonance, I took the calmer, more intimate route and loaded up an 8-hour playlist consisting of bands and artists such as Elliott Smith, Kevin Devine, Arms & Sleepers, The American Dollar, Hammock, As Tall As Lions, Balmorhea, Bon Iver, Olafur Arnalds, and Daughter, appropriately. This list was prepared and completed probably 2 months before our due date of October 11, 2012.

Skip ahead to that awesome due date of 10/11/12. Still no baby. Still no baby for 9 more days. Two o’ clock in the morning on October 20, my girlfriend started having heavy contractions. We waited awhile to see how she progressed and called our midwife for advice. She told us to take our time and that things should be fine, and for us to come down when we were able. We live an hour and a half from the birthing center where we were to have the baby…with a giant, winding mountain in between our town and theirs. You can imagine my girlfriend’s joy on that car ride…

We got to the birthing center at 7:55 AM. Our beautiful, healthy, and happy daughter, Everlyn Aura, was born at 8:44 AM. Once we got there, things went so quickly that basically everything we had structured for our birthing plan was completely thrown out the window. Due to how abruptly this took place, I ended up more or less being the second midwife during delivery and had zero time to set up our music. This may seem like a petty and or selfish complaint in the midst of a truly beautiful moment, but really I’m just emphasizing the comedic turn in which I spent so much time on a meaningful and enjoyable playlist that we didn’t even end up using. I should really acknowledge how lucky and grateful we were to have such an amazing, and basically flawless, birth. My girlfriend impressed me beyond belief and the entire experience was breathtakingly beautiful. At that point, the music was the furthest thing from our minds of course. It didn’t all go exactly according to plan, but I can safely say that we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

After we went home that night, exhausted, thrilled, still in shock, and so on, I decided that we should at least play one song from the playlist as we relaxed with our perfect little girl. After looking through the 120+ song mix, I chose “Little Bird” by Said The Whale. Everything about the song seemed perfect for the occasion; the lyrics and the beautiful melody were ideal.

“And in the morning I awoke to find I’d grown a smolder in my heart / When it was cold and dark / Little bird came into my life when I’d lost sight of the spring / She was the little spark.”

I’ve always loved Said The Whale’s sounds and lyrics. Their Little Mountain LP topped my “Best of 2012” list last year. The way they blend indie rock, folk, and multi-instrumental beauty is both arresting and inspiring. They’ll most certainly never hold the spot in my heart that my daughter does of course, but they’ll always have a deeper meaning and connection for me than many bands do, primarily due to the fact that they were the first band my daughter heard on the day she was born. This is a fact she will be made aware of when she’s older and much like that first concert with Anthony Green and The Dear Hunter, I hope that “Little Bird” and Said The Whale will hold a special meaning for her as she grows and appreciates music.

Brian Leak

Editor-In-Chief. King of forgetting drinks in the freezer. Pop culture pack rat. X-Phile. LOST apologist.
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  • Leslie Ellis

    Thanks for sharing the story of Everlyn’s birth so beautifully. While music didn’t play the part in her birth experience that you had planned, I know that she will be surrounded by music and so much love in her life. This is a very special song for her first. I’ll bet she will grow to love it as you do.

  • Brian Lion

    Thank you, Leslie. I always appreciate your thoughts and feedback.