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NaCl (Sodium Chloride)

[Kate McGarrigle]

The late Kate McGarrigle’s chemical love song NaCl can be found on her family’s 1998 CD The McGarrigle Hour. The album notes commented:

This little gem originally appeared on the now-out-of-print Pronto Monto. Kate studied Chemistry in high school and at McGill and hated it, but something must have stuck. One afternoon in 1972, she wrote this at the piano in about 10 minutes.

Jon Boden sang NaCl as the 20 September 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.


Just a little atom of chlorine, valence minus one,
Swimming through the sea, diggin’ the scene, just havin’ fun.
She’s not worried about the shape or size of her outside shell,
It’s fun to ionize, a little atom of Cl with an unfilled shell.

But somewhere in that sea lurks handsome sodium
With enough electrons on his outside shell plus that extra one.
“Somewhere in that deep blue sea there’s a negative for my extra energy,
Yes, somewhere in that foam my positive will find a home.”

Then unsuspecting chlorine felt a magnetic pull,
She looked down and her outside shell was full.
Sodium cried, “What a gas! Be my bride
And I’ll change your name from chlorine to chloride.”

Well the sea evaporates to make the clouds that form the rain and snow,
Leaving her chemical compounds in the absence of H2O.
But the crystals that wash upon the shore are happy ones,
So if you never thought before…
Think of the love that you eat when you salt your meat.