Baby Beluga by Raffi on Throwback Thursdays

Today’s classic song is the wonderful, magical, timeless Baby Beluga by Raffi

I have worked as a Teaching Artist for over ten years and as a result I have a love/hate relationship with school concerts. They are big, loud and often stressful for the kids they are meant to celebrate. In fact, there are always a few kids who burst into tears or simply refuse to go on stage. All that being said, I generally enjoy school concerts (except the ones that start at 8:30am, because…ugh). This is probably partly because one of my strongest childhood memories of my baby brother is watching him at his pre-school’s year-end concert. He sang Baby Beluga, as kids have been singing at school shows and in classrooms for the last 35 years.

Arguably Raffi’s most famous song, Baby Beluga tells the story of a day in the life of a baby
whale. He sings and plays with his friends, he gets tucked into bed at night, he’s a happy, free little guy. The melody catches the mood perfectly and joyfully. The song’s brief, simple lyrics are bursting with the curiosity and playfulness of a child of any species. Since it was published in 1980, it has been a staple of many music teachers’ repertoires.

At his school concert, my baby brother stood on the far right of the stage and sang his little heart out. That was it. No show-stealing, no crying, no funny little dance. Despite his lack of drama, his little face singing a song he loved has stayed with me for decades.

My little brother, ready to sing in 1990.
My little brother, ready to sing in 1990.

Now every time I hear this song I think of him. His silky, blonde hair was spiked up (as per his instructions) he wore his fanciest clothes, and brought his favorite toy, a Gumby doll on stage with him. He had been singing Baby Beluga for months around the house, so we all (my parents, other brother and I) also knew it by heart. I’m pretty sure we sang along with him then, and it’s a song that comes up now again at home even today.

I can never hear it without smiling, and perhaps that is the best part about school concerts. All the practicing and drama ensure that there will be a few songs that work their way into your heart and mind and stay there forevermore, reminding you when you look at a tall, accomplished and mature man that he was once a skinny little boy with knobby knees and a clip-on tie, singing his heart out.

With heaven above and the sea below, he was just a cute little boy on the go.

From the man himself:

Baby Beluga in the deep blue sea
Swim so wild and swim so free
The heaven above and the sea below
See the little white whale on the go

Oh baby Beluga, oh baby Beluga, is the water warm?
Is your mama home with you so happy?

Way down under where the dolphins play
Where you swim and splash all day
Waves roll in and the waves roll out
See the water squirting out of your spout

Baby Beluga, oh, baby Beluga, sing your little song
Sing for all your friends, we’ll like to hear you

When it’s dark you’re home and fed
Curl up snug in your water bed
Moon is shining and the stars are out
Good night, little whale, goodnight

Baby Beluga, oh, baby Beluga, with tomorrow’s sun
Another day’s begun, you’ll soon be waking

Baby Beluga in the deep blue sea
Swim so wild and swim so free
The heaven above and the sea below
And a little white whale on the go
You’re just a little white whale on the go

 

5 comments

  1. I just love this gentle song by Raffi. When we sing it I bring either the bubble machine or just a little bubble-making toy. The kids adore the song and of course love the bubbles too! This was one of my daughter’s (now 28!) favorite songs from babyhood through pre-school, and I sang it to her all the time. Thank you Raffi, for this song and your spirit.

  2. Awww, this was a perfect throwback Thursday for me. In the late 80’s/early 90’s I was the Lead Caregiver/Teacher in Toddler and Two classrooms – this was our FAVORITE song every morning! I can still hear those charming little voices (all of whom are college graduates by now) chanting Ba wooo ga! Ba wooo ga! It also became a favorite read/singalong for my own daughters when they arrived in the late 90’s!

    Thanks for keeping the classics alive 🙂

  3. This was fun to read, and picture the 30 plus years of school programs I have witnessed…but most of all I noticed that three belugas were spotted off Jamestown, Rhode Island this week! It’s exciting but worrisome too,k since they are normally found in arctic seas…but these whales (which included a baby!) were indeed wild and free!

  4. In the early 80’s I taught in a creative arts-enriched preschool in Greenwich Village where we were singing all the time. One of my co-teachers, in fact, was Ivan Ulz who wrote “Firetruck!”
    One spring, we took a field trip across the Brooklyn Bridge to the New York Aquarium at Coney Island. I will always remember a little girl named Gaynor with her nose to the glass of the beluga tank, singing Baby Beluga to the real live baby beluga who nuzzled the glass on the inside of the tank, seeming to listen to every word and smiling.

    1. What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing it.

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