Edited to add:
If you’re interested in ordering That Baby DVD, or That Baby CD, or the set, enter the coupon code “MotherTalk” when purchasing from the website, and save 20% on your entire order! Also, from now until May 18th, all orders using the coupon code “MotherTalk” will be entered in a drawing to win a new iPod nano.
I grew up listening to my parents’ music: Judy Collins, The Kingston Trio, Pete Seeger and Joan Baez recordings, augmented by occasional trips into Manhattan for afternoon symphony rehearsals. “Kid’s music” as we think of it now, didn’t really exist, though everything my parents played, of course, was perfect kid’s music: clear lyrics (focusing often on peace and social justice); beautiful melodies. And my tastes now run usually (though not exclusively) toward the unplugged and the solo vocal or small group over the bigger, more raucous sound of a band.
When Ben was born, we didn’t run out and start buying kids music. I played him the Indigo Girls, Tony played him hip-hop. We were doing just fine (and Ben was learning about many different kinds of stringed instruments, plus keeping the beat very well) but inevitably kids’ music started making its way in the door: Dan Zanes, Ralph Covert. We signed Ben up for a music class with a local former indie rocker, Chris Molla, where he banged a tambourine and learned great old folk songs.
I didn’t realize how lucky we’d been with the music Ben, and then Eli, were listening to until recently, when we were given an “educational” CD called Color Train. I’m not linking to it because it’s simply too terrible: over-engineered synthesizers and a chirpy vocal, with inane lyrics like “Where oh where did the dinosaurs go? I guess we’ll never know!” which make Tony and Ben yell at the CD: “We do! We do know! We know because of science!”
I disappeared the CD as quickly as I could and we went running back to our beloved staples.
After the Color Train debacle, I didn’t expect much from the That Baby CD and DVD, but I signed up for the MotherTalk blog tour because something in the description of the CD and its producers made me think it might be ok. It’s a Mom and Pop outfit, literally. Rob and Lisi Wolf aren’t a committee of teachers and child development specialists who have compromised their way to 41 minutes of age-appropriate pablum. They sound kind of like me (parents who think having kids shouldn’t mean turning the stereo off for 10 years), and their musical tastes are right in line with mine. The track list for That Baby CD showcases the groups that created the soundtrack of my high school years: Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac, 10,000 Maniacs, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and more.
But still, I was skeptical. If the music’s that good, why not play your kids the originals, rather than acoustic covers? Well, we very well could, but the fact is we don’t. The CD is like a mix tape made by a good friend, someone who knows your taste well enough to put some of your favorite songs onto a recording, plus some great unfamiliar stuff. So, in fact, while I love Bruce Springsteen, the Springsteen song on this CD, Pony Boy, is new to me, and the cover (by Jaycob Van Auken, a Lyle Lovett-sound alike) is gorgeous (the accompanying video is one of my favorites, too). Stephanie Schneiderman is a terrific discovery for me, as well; I think she’s brave to take on Joni Mitchell’s Circle Game, but she brings something beautifully new to the song. Her cover of Peter, Paul and Mary’s Garden Song is a beauty, as is her take on Paul Simon’s St. Judy’s Comet (honestly, I like her voice so much, I’m going to buy her solo CDs).
The CD is now firmly established in our car music rotation; the accompanying DVD is terrific (except, I have to say, for the kids lip syncing to Brass Pocket, which we all find a little disconcerting!) Although we don’t watch a ton of tv around here, and when we do, it is hard for the boys (or any of us, really) to shake the family Oswald habit, they have started to request repeat viewings of the That Baby DVD, and I am happy to oblige. The That Baby CD and DVD make a great addition to any family’s music repertoire.