Friday, September 4, 2009
Rock on tiny dancer: Music parents will love as much your baby does
Before Pooka was born I determined that I would never listen to sugar sweet kid's music, or heaven forbid, a group like the Wiggles (is it just me or are middle aged men in coordinating, primary-colored costumes a bit creepy?). But a few years ago, before Pooka was born, I stumbled upon some great music geared for children. I'm not a good sleeper (just like many babies), but listening to music at bedtime usually helps me fall asleep. Seeking an alternative to the new-agey soothing spa music usually recommended to aid sleep, I found Rockabye Baby's lullaby renditions and fell in love. Using only xylophones the group reproduces all sorts of rock and alternative favorites, everything from Bob Marley to Radiohead to Led Zeppelin. We downloaded our favorite songs from several goups and created an itunes playlist that I listened to every night while I was pregnant and throughout labor, delivery, and recovery. We had nurses and doctors coming into our room to ask what music we were listening to. While getting my epidural, the anesthesiologist turned to me with a questioning look and said, "Is this the Cure?" We continued to play these lullabies for weeks after Pooka was born to help her fall asleep.
Eventually we branched out with Jewel's Lullaby album and the Putamayo Kids Dreamland albums (see my post on 10 things we couldn't live without the first 3 months). Then I realized we needed something besides lullabies to listen to when Pooka was awake. Whenever I put her on the play gym, in the bouncy, or on her tummy she is content for much longer when music is on. First we bought some of the Putamayo Kids Playground series, and particularly like the African, French and Reggae Playground albums. Turns out Pooka really loves reggae, because when we purchased Ziggy Marley's wonderful new disc Family Time we would both smile and laugh as I danced around with her. The album features guest appearances by Jack Johnson, Willie Nelson, and Paul Simon. After enjoying Ziggy's "children's" album so much I started to dig deeper (thanks itunes!) and found he wasn't the only musician to make a great children's album. We love Jack Johnson and friends', Sing-Alongs and Lullabies for the film Curious George, and discovered Johnny Cash's wonderful children's album. We really like Johnny's silly version of the ABC's. Lisa Loeb has also jumped into children's music, first with Elizabeth Mitchell on Catch a Moon and more recently with Camp Lisa. We prefer the Catch a Moon album, as Camp Lisa gets a bit too campy (sorry)! Elizabeth Mitchell also has some wonderful albums, particularly You Are My Sunshine. She's the lead singer of indie music group Ida.
My recent favorite is Frances England. I'm obsessed with both her albums, Fascinating Creatures and Family Tree. She has a folky/indie vibe to her music and clever lyrics that are perfect for both parents and kids to sing along to. For instance, in her song Tricycle she sings about chasing Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France in your underpants. She also has a wonderful homage to fathers in Daddy-O, and sings about jazz greats Miles Davis and John Coltrane in her song Charlie Parker. Her songs get stuck in my head for hours!
So it turns out that children's music is not a complete desert. I have found my oasis with these wonderful albums and will be sure to update whenever I find any other gems!
All of the music aside from the Putamayo Kids are available on itunes.