CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 18: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani delivers a speech on the first day of the Republican National Convention on July 18, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicks off on July 18. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
This week, New Girl creator Liz Meriwether will be in Cleveland covering the Republican National Convention for Vulture.
Many people don’t know this, but the Republican National Convention actually has a Children’s Music Hour event, and Rudy Giuliani will be performing some songs there tonight. It won’t be the first time Rudy has sung songs for children — he reportedly recorded a children’s album of lullabies earlier this year called AMERICA! GREATNESS! GO TO SLEEP NOW! It was never released, and in fact there was only one child who ever even got to hear it. He was the son of one of the musicians, and he described the experience of listening to it as, “Mommy, turn it off, why is the man yelling at me? Mommy, I’m scared, please turn it off.”
I spoke with that child, who asked to be identified by the pseudonym “Greg” because he is still scared; he claims to not have gotten a full night of sleep since his exposure. During our interview, he had to take multiple breaks to listen to a white-noise machine and eat ice cream and drink imaginary tea with a stuffed dinosaur. He described in detail the experience of listening to a particular track, “AMERICA!” where Rudy Giuliani screams the word “America” into the microphone for ten straight minutes. “I don’t know what America is,” Greg said, “but I don’t want it to come and hurt me.” Every time I mentioned the word “America” during our conversation, Greg covered his ears with his hands and asked me to stop. At one point, Greg’s mother came in and gave her son a hug: “I won’t let America get you.”
Greg said there was one track that was “not as scary,” and that was Rudy’s cover of the famous lullaby “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” Accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra and the beautiful backing vocals of Emmylou Harris, Rudy manages to speak-sing his way through the classic song. Then, halfway along, he abruptly changes the lyrics to “Twinkle twinkle little star, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU!”
“I liked it until he started yelling at the star,” Greg recalled. “What did the little star do? I thought it was just twinkling.” I tried to explain that the star was a radical Islamic fundamentalist terrorist star, but Greg was too busy drawing a sad dark cloud over a picture of his face. Greg was also scared by Rudy’s version of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” where Rudy sings, “Mary had one America, and WHAT HAPPENED TO IT? WHERE DID IT DO? WHEN DID IT FLY AWAY?” Greg thought that was kind of funny, actually, because countries can’t fly. “If he wants to find the country that went away, maybe he should stop screaming so much and the country would come back,” Greg told me from inside a fort his therapist recommended he build.
Greg’s mother ended up playing acoustic guitar on the album after responding to an ad on Craigslist. “I thought it was going to be a children’s album, so it would be fun,” she told me. “I didn’t know it was going to be sad and scary and all about people dying.” She said recording with Giuliani was difficult, because he spent a lot of the session talking about how he had been the mayor of New York. “That’s definitely impressive, but it had nothing to do with recording a children’s album.” At one point, Rudy started calling random numbers on his phone and yelling, “DONALD TRUMP IS A GOOD MAN!” “I don’t even know if he knew the people he was calling,” Greg’s mom told me. She didn’t know much about Donald Trump, but good people don’t usually need other people to scream about how good they are. She made Rudy some hot tea to try and get him to calm down, but he poured the hot tea on his lap and then started screaming again.
When they finally got around to recording, Rudy made up a whole song on the spot called, “Hillary Clinton Was Basically the Leader of Libya And Should Be Held Accountable For Everything That’s Ever Happened In Libya.” It wasn’t very catchy. “I told him that kids might like it a little more if it rhymed or it had a cute animal in it or something.” He actually took Greg’s mom’s suggestion and rhymed “Libya” with “Hillary’s Coming To Kill Ya.” It wasn’t exactly what she had in mind, but it was better than nothing. She let me listen to Rudy’s cover of “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid. I was surprised that he had chosen to rap most of the lyrics. She said that, in the studio, Rudy had insisted that there was no difference between “black america” and “white america,” and that meant he could rap anything he wanted to. “Little Mermaid, it’s the remix!” Rudy can be heard saying on the recording. When one producer disagreed with him about this choice, he reportedly took a bite out of an amp.
“I was surprised that his teeth were strong enough to actually break through the metal like that,” Greg’s mother told me. “He actually chewed through four or five microphones. He said it was because he was ‘fired up.’ Fine, but when most people get fired up, they don’t start eating metal.” Her favorite song on the album is called “Donald Trump Will Lead by Leading” — it was silly and good for kids because the lyrics were “basically nonsense.” The session ultimately fell apart when Rudy sprained his elbow from moving his hands up and down too many times.
Greg’s mom said that she and her son are trying to move past the experience. She’s a long way off from ever singing another lullaby to her son, but she’s optimistic that he will be able to listen to music again without crying. When I asked her if she was planning to watch the Republican Children’s Music Hour tonight, she answered simply, “No.” The GOP is being a little cagey about who else will be performing tonight, but as far as we know, Chris Christie and Paul Ryan are scheduled to do a duet of an original song, “You Will Be Murdered by Hillary Who Will Come to Your Bedroom in the Form of a Dragon.” Donald Trump Jr. will play “Itsy Bitsy Spider” on a sheriff’s harp. It should be fun for the family.