How Do You Know, from Watch the Birdie (Day 56)

Father and songRaising my two boys was fairly drama-free, I have to say, but even so, there were moments when I worried. You don’t get any training before being tossed into the fray as a dad, and so you make up some stuff based on what you saw your dad do, and maybe what you wish he had done, and there’s plenty of times I’m pretty sure I made a mess of the job. Even so, it’s been a rich and remarkable experience. Raising my sons, I discovered a capacity for tenderness and selfless behavior that I never knew existed. I think about all that when I hear Jason Michael singing the song How Do You Know, from Watch the Birdie.

One day he’s got toys in the bathtub,
The next day his beard’s in the sink.
It’s crazy to think that my son is now twenty-one.
Time has this habit of just slipping by.
In the blink of an eye, he grew,
And now he’s a man,
And he takes things so serious.
Something about him is kind of mysterious.

How do you know?
How do you know how they’ll grow?
Is there some plan for becoming a man
That was worked out a long time ago?
Is there a way that he needs to be shown?
Or can he manage just fine on his own?
I fuss and I pray
And he’s made out okay til now,
Yes, but how do you know?

Time was we’d snuggle at bedtime,
But now he’s afraid of my touch.
He’s brought me such pain and such joy,
My Francis, my boy.
We got the same name, but he’s nothing like me.
There’s not much we agree on, it’s true.
I hope that’s okay, ’cause that’s just how it is.
I can barely mind my bus’ness, let alone his.

Jesus, how do you know?
How do you know how they’ll grow?
Is there some plan for becoming a man
That was worked out a long time ago?
Is there a way that he needs to be shown,
Or can he manage just fine on his own?
I fuss, and I pray,
And he’s made out okay ’til now,
Yes, but how do you know?

I got him this bike twelve birthdays ago,
And it wasn’t cheap, heaven knows.
He begged me to buy it, but just wouldn’t try it.
Afraid that he’d fall, I suppose.
Oh, boy, how we argued! I yelled and I cussed,
And fin’lly I left it out here in disgust.
A couple days later, and what do you know?
The kid’s on his bike and he rides like a pro!

I make mistakes,
But I ain’t done too bad.
I ain’t no genius,
I’m only his dad.
And maybe someday,
He’ll come back and he’ll say, “Hey, yo.”
Yeah, but how do you know?

Can you tell this song was written for Gemini the Musical? Perhaps the reference to “My Francis” and turning twenty-one tipped you off? How Do You Know never made it to the rehearsal room, though; Albert shrewdly recognized that the song’s pensive mood and confessional tone was more Charlie Gilbert than Fran Geminiani. It seems much more at home in Watch the Birdie; in fact, it’s become one of my favorite moments.

If you missed them, these are the songs already posted on Project 194; the links on the right are songs chosen at random from previous posts. Want to contribute to my interactive composition, “Hear My Song?” Read more here. Want to receive daily songs delivered direct to your inbox? Sign up here!

2 thoughts on “How Do You Know, from Watch the Birdie (Day 56)

  1. Pingback: Be A Man, from Assassins (Day 118) | Notes from a SAVI Savant

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