I found that songs sung in a soothing fashion would often lull him into a gentle sleep. There are only so many classic lullaby songs a man can go through, so after one or two of the "standards" I would often switch over to some other songs that I knew really well.
I would regularly sing Are you Lonesome Tonight? famously covered by Elvis, Coward of the County by Kenny Rogers and If I Had a Million Dollars by Bare-Naked Ladies.
Of course, I pretty much know the lyrics to most of the songs by Rush, so there were a few Rush ballads that I ended up singing to him on a regular basis. Madrigal, Tears and Closer to the Heart.
Madrigal is one of my favourites for a bedtime lullby. One of Rush's shortest recorded songs, here's how it begins:
When the dragons grow too mightyInterestingly, Alexander loves listening to Rush, particularly when we're driving somewhere together. Of course, his favourite would be the opening sequence (or the opening two movements if you prefer) from 2112 (Overture and The Temples of Syrinx). We always have a grand time blasting that in the car and doing both air guitar and air drums to it. There's also a "basement rec room" version that we do where I crank it on the stereo and manipulate three different lights in time to the music.
To slay with pen or sword
I grow weary of the battle
And the storm I walk toward
When all around is madness
And there's no safe port in view
I long to turn my path homeward
To stop awhile with you
- from "Madrigal" by Rush from A FAREWELL TO KINGS (1977)
However, with the exception of the sequence "Discovery" where the hero in 2112 finds the ancient guitar and starts gently playing on it, the song 2112 is a hard-hitting rock song that wakes a person up, doesn't gently settle them down.
And back to the concept of settling down, a few nights ago, when he was having trouble sleeping, Alexander spoke quietly from the darkness of his room. "Sing to me, Dad." That was interesting. He hadn't asked me to sing for a long time. Usually, he would ask me to tell him a story. But this time he wanted a song.
"What would you like me to sing?" I asked.
"A Rush lullaby."
Sigh. For a long-time Rush nerd, does life get any better than that?