The next installment for our Archives series in tandem with PIO! Editor Brigid Finucane features member Steve Blunt and his song, Hang On, Henry!
Hang On, Henry originally appeared in the All Songs Issue (#44) of PIO! in 2003. Many members have not stopped singing it since! From Steve:
I wrote this song in 1995, in Huber Heights, Ohio, a few months after our daughter, Mary, was born. That year I took some time off my job as a middle school English teacher to stay home with the baby. One afternoon I was sitting in a rocking chair, giving Mary a bottle while holding her in my lap–and I gazed out the window to see a kite flying above a neighborhood park. “How hard would the wind have to blow to send a small child into the air, riding on a kite?” I wondered. That’s how this song was conceived; it became the title track of my first CD and I’m still singing it all these years later. (Mary’s now finishing up her second year of college as a political science major.)
Since “Hang On, Henry!” appeared in CMN’s “All Songs” issue several years ago, it has found its way into the repertoires of a few children’s music friends and colleagues who say that it’s a hit with their audiences. This gives me tremendous pleasure! My recording features some talented musicians for a nice rock-a-billy sound, but the song itself works well in a simple “folk” setting–just singing along to accompaniment on acoustic guitar (perhaps not as uptempo as the recorded version). The song tells a fun, simple story–with a catchy refrain. For me the key to performing it live is to use all my storytelling tricks to deliver the narrative in the verses–silly character voices & gestures, shifts in tempo & dynamics, spoken digressions, etc.–while getting audiences to participate by singing along on the chorus (which is short enough to repeat, if you like).
Long ago a friend told me that I needed to figure out what works so well in “Hang On, Henry!” and write more songs like that. I’ve probably written hundreds of songs since then, but “Henry” is still the one kids ask for most often!
For music and lyrics, click here: