One day, about 2 years ago, I was picking some stuff up in Toys R Us and came across one of THOSE CDs. You know the ones, parents. They’re sitting at the endcaps of the aisle and have lots of color and maybe monkeys playing instruments on the cover. They’re badly produced, badly sung by kids and they consist of classics like ROW, ROW ROW YOUR BOAT and LITTLE BUNNY FUFU. Even though all the future versions of yourself are trying to rip through time and space to stop it, you buy the CD without even considering the repercussions. I think this, like seeing a dot of blood on your child’s knee for the first time, is a basic trial of parenting. We all have to, in one for or another, buy this CD.
It’s only months later after your child has repeatedly said “I wanna hear Monkeys Jumping On the Bed” that you realize the err of your ways. Not that there’s anything wrong with taking one for the team now and then, but your sanity in these situations is pretty important. I’ve found that you can course correct this entire situation just as quickly. If the music is good and speaks to a child, they’ll embrace it. Here are just a few albums that I’ve come across that allow me to maintain my personal zen during drive time or are great to just pop on during playtime and have a quick dance.
I love her voice and Jack, for some reason, calls her “The Old Lady”. I think that’s a compliment, because she sings with a grace that goes beyond her years. Her rendition of Peace Like a River is sung with great joy on long and short car rides.
Not only an amazing movie, the soundtrack might as well have been crafted out of the finest fresh baked bread, warm jam and by the hands of a loving mother. It evokes a simpler time and, I think, speaks to an innocence within all of us. It’s something that I think any kid would benefit from hearing and a style of music that will never get old. It’s like revisiting an old friend. Put on BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN and just dance with your kids and I dare you not to all be smiling by the end.
Devo is great. They just are. The mere fact that this level of progressive music can also masquerade as really good children’s music is icing on the cake. I can put this on and know that, one some level, we’re all gonna have fun. Maybe there will be some dancing, but mostly it will just make for a sane car ride to wherever we have to get to. I get reminded of watching Saturday morning cartoons when I hear Devo. They’re parody of music and the seriousness with which it is usually taken may be lost on young ears, but the cartoony nature of their electronic sounds are a welcome delight. Good stuff.
This one kinda falls into the Devo camp. I’ve always loved Queen and the accessibility of their music to young ears is a happy coincidence. Songs like WE WILL ROCK YOU seem like a no brainer. The simple repetition is candy to the ears of a kid that just wants something to repeat over and over. However, I was surprised how songs like KILLER QUEEN or CRAZY LITTLE THING CALLED LOVE are just as embraced. Queen kinda had this way of finding the simple message of a song, over any genre, and giving it to us in a beautifully wrapped tune. I don’t know for certain, but I think that just an attractive filter to put on any music.
I might be raising two nerds, but they’ll be the coolest nerds you’ll ever know. John Williams’ score for Star Wars is undoubtedly iconic. It also makes for some background music for everything from arts and crafts time to clean up time. There is nothing cooler than doing a little bit of rough housing, or as Jack calls it “play crazy”, as Daddy walks into the room with the boom of the Imperial March following him. It’s helped craft memories between me and my sons that I know I’ll have forever. That’s in addition to the childhood memories it’s already helped forge in me as a fan of the movies.
The ones I’ve decided to end this list with might be…well, not controversial. I mean, this is a blog about good kids music. However, they might be music that adults have absolutely not interest in hearing and that might even make some want to drive into traffic. That’s okay. I’ve included them because they are an integral part of my own parenting experience. These are, for me, the go-to songs.
This might be a little tougher to find and, for me, required a custom playlist on Spotify. Which, hey, how great is Spotify? Anyway, this is a bit of a selfish choice of mine. Now, I happen to love most of the modern Disney movies and I’m not gone of those guys or girls that is at all sick of hearing LET IT GO from Frozen. I think it’s fantastic and the fact that it’s reinvigorated lots of children’s imaginations at a time when that was in dire need is impressive. However, I do have a fondness for the Disney music that was old even when I was young. My 4 year old seems more taken by songs like HI, HO from Snow White or the theme song from PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN (the ride, not the movie) than he does the more modern songs. We’ve spent a few afternoons already dancing about to BEAR NECESSITIES from The Jungle Book.
Just everything. Everything about the Muppets. You cannot go wrong exposing your children to the music that came out of the collaborations or the independent genius of Jim Henson. I might be a little biased here. See, when Jack was born the first thing I did was sing the song Cottleston Pie to him. It’s from the Winne The Pooh books, but I knew it as being sung by Rowlf from The Muppets. It would continually, with a little rocking, put Jack to sleep. I sing it to my 6 week old now.
For me, The Muppets were that rare mix of magic, imagination and creative intellect that may never come at that level again. I think that I’d be doing a disservice to my children to not attempt to pass down something that helped me find the things I was passionate about in my own life.
So, yes, anyway that you can seen out The Muppets, do so. You can find a lot of the old shows on Amazon or YouTube. The music exists in various collections. As for the movies, while I liked THE MUPPETS remake that Jason Segel did a few years ago, the sequel was kind of a letdown. However, in both the music (composted by one half of the Flight of the Conchords duo) is amazing.
Thank you for listening (hah, because it’s a blog about music, and be well).