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BY Simcha Fisher
So you're in your car, you've got the windows down, and you feel like doing some very mild rocking out in your dorky, parentish way. But of course the kids are also in the car. What to do?
Some people just make the kiddies hitch a ride on whatever crazy train the parents are on:
It ain't pretty. But it's also fairly depressing to realize that the last hundred tunes you listened to all had to do with little white ducks or the importance of eating veggies.
We never really got into kid music much. Instead, we cherry pick the kid-friendly stuff from our favorite albums, and everybody's happy. As a bonus, we have discovered a few excellent threats: "Do you want me to put on Blood On the Tracks, or do you want to settle down?" (They always settle down.) Here's a few of the bands that work for all ages in our family:
Well, of course The Beatles, and I don't want to hear from all you overly developed people who have somehow persuaded yourself that the Beatles aren't as good as everyone says they are. Of course they're as good as everyone says they are. Check out François Glorieux Plays the Beatles if you need a little help recognizing greatness. We once had a baby who didn't talk much, until one of her first sentences was "Wan' hear 'Beep beep YESH.'" And so "Drive My Car" became her song.
Anything up to and including the Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album in 1967 is aces for kids. After that, there were some works of genius and some pretentious twaddle, and you have to be more selective unless you want your kids to grow up warped (or if you want them to ask you, in the middle of a parent teacher conference, why happiness is a warm gun). Even my toddlers know that the sound of the white man's sitar is the sound of baloney.
Paul Simon's Rhythm of the Saints and Graceland
Okay, so your children might conceivably pick up the last vestiges of Paul Simon's really ooky ham-handedness "Sonny's yearbook from high school is down from the shelf, and he idly thumbs through the pages . . . Sonny wanders beyond his interior walls, runs his hands through his thinning brown hair." I mean, I have thinning brown hair, but, ook. But boy, overall, you got the drums, you got the rhythms, you got every instrument singing. Wonderful stuff. What kid wouldn't like this?
How about Queen?
Now, obviously, you need to be a little selective here. You don't want the kiddies singing about "Fat Bottomed Girls," even if the overall message is sort of comforting for your average mother of nine. But Queen is good fun.
I would understand being creeped out by their whole image, but the campiness and the sweatiness don't necessarily come through just in audio -- but the magnificent vocalizations and the brilliant production do. One caveat that doesn't have anything to do with the theme of this post: probably I'm on the only one in the Western Hemisphere who thinks they really didn't pull off "Under Pressure" (I mean, look, Luciano Pavarotti and Lou Reed are both great in their own way, but that doesn't mean they need to do a duet together).
How about the Gipsy Kings
My five year old daughter can't get enough of the Gipsy Kings, and what she says goes.
And that includes the awesome one where they're like, "Oo-ellcome to de Hotel Cal-I-forn-i-ah. Sach a lavely place, sach a lavely place, sach a lavely place." That is all.
When I was growing up, when it got hot, our pastor would turn up at Mass with a terry cloth tennis band around his bald head. He was always at great pains to explain that he wasn't trying to be "mod;" he was just trying to keep the sweat from running into his eyes. The truth was, there was never any real danger of us thinking he was trying to be mod. The same principle applies here, as I round out my post with an example from the incredibly mod year of 2007: Raising Sand by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant.
Truth be told, I've gotten a little weary of this album, but the kiddies like it, and it's really not bad.
Well, how about you? What you do when the young 'uns need their entertainment, but you can't listen to "I'm Just a Little Black Rain Cloud" one more stinking time?