Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Children's Music

For a while now I've been daydreaming about the effusive praise I was going to heap on the musicians now listed in the sidebar, but I've wasted the afternoon trying to get my new DVD burner to work, and I'm feeling spent. At the moment I think all I can do is spew a few random complements.

When I was a young man with an embarassing haircut, Dan Zanes fronted an alternative roots rock band called the Del Fuegos. He now makes folkie music for children using an eclectic cast of regular musicians and some pretty spectacular guest stars. Perhaps the most amazing thing I've heard on one of his disks is a duet version of "What a Wonderful World" with Lou Reed, whom one rarely expects to find on a children's album. Reed is amazing, inflecting his usual monotone voice with some jazz phrasings that suddenly make a kitchy, maudlin song into a piece of brilliance. The track ends with a bedtime rap in English and Spanish by regulars the Rubi Theatre Company. Incredible. Also outstanding on the same album: a duet with John Doe doing Woodie Guthrie's "So Long, Its Been Good to Know Ya." Zanes is also one of the best folk/roots/blues guitar players I've heard in a while.

For about the first year of her life, Caroline's bedtime song was "Night Owl" of the Dan Zanes CD. More recently, she has been going to bed with the They Might Be Giants kid's book and album "Bed Bed Bed Bed Bed." She calls it her "la la book" becuase of the chorus of the third track. She seems to be wearing of the la la book, though. More recently she has been requesting "Horses" which is the version of "All the Pretty Horses" by ex-throwing muse Kristin Hersh. She has also been requesting "Cows" which is the first track on Philadelphia Chickens by greeting card lady Sandra Boynton, whom I forgot to list at the right, but who is quite fantastic. The Cows song is about a bovine chorus line: "If you thought that all we could do was go moo/then you ought to know that before us/there's not been a chorus line so fine." She's big on the clever rhymes.

Elizabeth Mitchell and Daniel Littleton are better known as the band Ida. Their children's music has the same hearbreaking softness and simplicity to it. (None of which sounds like Dan's older band The Hated.)

ok, enough for now.

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