Nobody's Child: Song Review

Song: Nobody's Child
Artist: Karen Young
Year: 1969
Nationality: British

Theme: orphan, blind

What's it about?
This is a ballad about a woman who stops for a moment outside an orphan home. There she sees a little boy who begins to cry. He tells her that he is "nobody's child" as no one ever wants to adopt him when they realise he is blind.

This song has a catchy chorus! It is also an interesting narrative told from the boy's point of view. There is no violence etc. in the song.

The boy does indicate that sometimes because he is so alone he wishes he could die and go to heaven so he can have a home and no longer be blind.

I was introduced to this song by my Dad who loves his music. I really like the sound of this song - it is catchy but soothing at the same time. Admittedly, the first few times I heard it (and when I was pregnant) it made me cry! I just wanted to go and adopt the little boy! 

In all serious though, it does give an interesting insight into the perceptions of people in the late 40s and 50s. Adoption was a way of having a family for many people but some only wanted the 'perfect accessory" and very few would have been willing to take on a child who was considered disabled. 

Using this in the classroom is a good way to look at the change of attitude towards people who are blind. Use the song to complement your unit about the achievements of Louis Braille or Helen Keller - both of whom showed that you can accomplish anything if you are determined enough. Really putting a focus on the "ability" in "disability".

As an added note: This song was originally recorded by Canadian singer Hank Snow in 1949. The version is a little more country in sound and not quite as catchy as Karen's and the lyrics do differ slightly. There were several other versions released as well, predominately by male singers, choose the version which you feel best suits your needs - but I prefer Karen's!

I was unable to locate a legitimate source for the song to download - sorry folks, it's not on iTunes at the moment. I got my version on a compilation album but even that album now seems unavailable!

There are several "tribute" (unofficial, fan-made) versions of this song available on YouTube. This particular one has the lyrics on the screen as well.

The image: Bust of Louis Braille (1809-1852) by Étienne Leroux (1836-1906) held by Bibliothèque nationale de France.

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