Why Snails Have Ears (if You Like Music, You Really Should Know This)

Quick background: Liz and I went for a drive today to listen to Disney music and sing (we’re actually both 6) when the song Under the Sea from Little Mermaid came on. In the song, the crawfish/lobster guy, Sebastian, is singing about his “hot crustacean band” and all its members. Liz heard the line “each little snail ear*, know how to wail here…” and she wondered why Sebastian is singing about snails’ ears. As a singer, she needed to know the truth about this – she might need the details for, say, a test in later life. In case any of you other musicians aren’t familiar with this obscure but important time in the history of music, here it is (as told by me to Lizzie via text):

Me: I realized why Sebastian is probably singing about snail’s ears in Under the Sea. You might not have known this, but all saltwater snails have perfect pitch. They have an ear for music, so most crustacean bands have at least one of them on staff to make sure the band is always on key. A little known fact is that most FRESH water snails are completely tone deaf.

Tone-deaf freshwater snail

Me: It’s actually become quite a problem, because some crustacean band leaders that live in tidal rivers – you know the rivers that are salt water when the tide is in and fresh water when the tide goes out?** – well, if they’re not very experienced, they sometimes hire fresh water snails before they realize their mistake. And then they can’t fire them, because the fresh water snails take advantage of their lack of experience by making sure they sign a ten-year contract. If the band leader really wants to fire the snail, they have to pay a ridiculous amount of money in severance packages. Which is why the crustacean bands in tidal river areas are generally not very good. They don’t have the money to hire the best crustaceans.

Liz: What’s wrong with you?

Me: Fish and sea creatures that really love that kind of music have actually formed an association, the Crustaceans of Rivers Association for Band Leaders’ Education Efforts (CRAB – LEE), to train potential crabs, lobsters, crawfish and the like about the difference between fresh water and saltwater snails. Unfortunately, the fresh water snails have formed their own association, the Band Enthusiasts’ Super Nice Association of Intelligent Leaders of Sound (BE – SNAILS), and the BE-SNAILS always manage to book the best hotels for their conferences, so the CRAB-LEE conferences are usually held in second-rate exhibition centers. Most CRAB-LEE members have stopped coming to the conferences, so fresh water snails continue to get hired by accident.

Me: Sebastian is actually president of CRAB-LEE.


Me: The Sea Witch***, though, is the president of BE-SNAILS (long story, I’ll save it for another time), and she has magic on her side, which is why they always know what hotels the CRAB-LEEs are planning to use for their conferences, and she books them first.

Liz: Oh my goodness.

Me: I know. It’s tragic.

Liz: Mom.

Me: I’m on a role.

Liz: Mole.

Liz: IDK why I wanted to say that, I just really did.

Me: Moles actually hate crustacean band music. They dig tunnels under the concert halls and snatch the conductors right off the stage. It’s terrifying.

Just under the roots of this tree is the scene of one of the worst massacres in crustacean band history. A mole tunneled into the roots and snatched up not only the conductor, but all of the band and most of the audience members. A bachelorette party was taking place at the time and while the bride survived, all of her bridesmaids were killed. Worse, her husband-to-be and his groomsmen were all in a back room watching a fish-strip (note: this is a very different fish-strip than the ones you eat with chips and vinegar in England) and he lost all six of his legs. The bride refused to marry him after he lost his limbs. She went on to marry a highly respected saltwater snail music director. Her limbless ex-fiancé was awarded millions in a civil suit when the mole was caught, hired the best prosthetic limb guy, and became a famous break-dancer. The seemingly heartless bride died, ironically, of a broken heart when her snail husband left her for a sweet little squid half his age.

Liz: I’m going to a movie soon…

Me: It’s fishy. The ideas keep swimming to the surface of my mind. I’m seem to be coming out of my shell. I don’t know why you’re getting salty with me. ****

Liz: Leaving now.

Me: But wait, what about my story?

Liz: I’m glad that I’ll be getting away from it.

Me: I’ll write out the story of how the Sea Witch became president of BE-SNAILS so you can read it when you get out of the movie. Lots of excitement and it ends with a terrific chase scene.

Liz: Please no…

So as you can see, I should clearly be a music teacher and will, in fact, be applying at Lizzie’s school as soon as there’s an opening. I know she will appreciate me sharing my knowledge with her peers.

This is Harry, a friend of mine who lives on a tidal river. He went to hear a crustacean band performing under the rock. Turned out it had a freshwater snail as music director. See the look of total contempt on Harry’s face? He’s sort of a music snob…

* I know that the line is actually “each little snail here [not “ear”], know how to wail here,” so please don’t correct me.

** I’m not exactly sure if this is how tidal rivers work, so feel free to correct me on this one.

*** If you’re not familiar with the Little Mermaid (don’t actually tell me if you’re not, because I will think less of you), the Sea Witch is the villain (actually you could probably have figured that out on your own).

**** “Salty” is a word the kids are actually using now to mean, like, irritated or pissy or, maybe, obnoxious? Not exactly sure. But I was quite proud to be able to use it (I think correctly) with her, and in a PUN, no less. Obviously I am brilliant and am the “cool mom.”

Have fun ’til next time,’



PS: It’s strange that a history lesson would actually have jump-started my desire to get back to my blog. Usually I’m just not that interested in history – actually, this isn’t really history because it’s still going on, so it’s more like current events – but a good story is always hard to resist.

PPS: Liz has become one of my favorite people in the world to just hang out and spend time with. I’m a lucky mom. Michael and Paul are also two of my favorite people to hang out with, but they don’t like me to write about them. (Liz likes me to write about her as long as she’s funny.)

1 thought on “Why Snails Have Ears (if You Like Music, You Really Should Know This)

  1. Pingback: Why Snails Have Ears (if You Like Music, You Really Should Know This) | MAW Search for Style

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