Kids love good music! And really bad music... So why not listen to good music with your kids? Here's a quick rundown of kids music that doesn't suck. Plus a few pointers to 'adult' musicians that kids dig. Oh, and we'd love your suggestions and comments.
The Bottle Let Me Down: Songs for Bumpy Wagon Rides — Probably my favorite kids album! Alt country stars rock and croon their favorites on this one. It features tasty renditions of old favorites like "On Top of Spaghetti," and "I am My Own Grandpa" plus new faves like "Don't Wipe Your Face on Your Shirt." There's even a slightly sultry "Rubber Ducky," first popularized by Sesame Street's Ernie.
They Might Be Giants — TMBG have come out with a recent slew of just-for-kids media — cd's, books and a great DVD. The animation and trippy tunes on Here Come the ABCs (CD/DVD Combo) would satisfy many a college 'study break.' Honestly, their old stuff was really for kids.... Gotta check out "Triangle Man" with the niños.
Dane Zanes — DZ is the reigning king of music that kids and adults can enjoy together. His shtick is that you should turn off your tv, invite over a few friends and make music in your living room. Anyone can do it. His albums and website have the chords so you can play along. While his music is traditional folk, plus originals, it comes off a little more rough and alternative. The latest, Catch That Train! is among his best.
Gwendolyn and the Good Time Gang — Gwendolyn plays around LA. Her music is nauseating and sappy sweet, but rocks. She is so cutsey-wootsy that adults can take it tongue-in-cheek, and the kids just rock out.
Banana Slug String Band — These dudes jam, get weird and infuse their songs with eco messages. We were introduced to them at the Strawberry Festival, a California folk music festival where they formed many years ago. Their recent work sounds like they are trying to break a deal with Disney, so I gravitate toward the old stuff.
Non-Kid Music Kids Love
Go Betty Go, "I'm from L.A." — Particularly recommended if you are, well, from LA. Gotta love hearing kids yell along to the words.
Gogol Bordello, "Start Wearing Purple" — This song is silly fun for anyone. And kids are particularly fond of gypsy punk music. Of course!
Any Music from the Source — So much kids' music consists of sapped up versions of old popular songs. Go to the source and you can find much richer renditions. I love John Lithgow's kid albums, but the original tunes had more character. Show Tunes, Ukulele Ike, Danny Kaye, The Hoosier Hotshots , Frank Sinatra and Elvis are all so much better than hearing some one sing the songs like a muppet with a kids chorus.
Punk Rock — Kids are sooo punk rock. But maybe you don't want them singing some of the hard core lyrics at school.... Me First and the Gimme Gimmes cover all your favorite non-punk classics just the way kids like them — loud and fast.
Tom Waits — Ok, as a Tom Waits freak it is important for me to instill good wholesome waitsian values in my children (without the icky alcoholic low-life elements). I've found a few tunes the kids particularly enjoy: "Don't Go Into That Barn," "I Don't Want to Grow Up" (the Ramones version rules), "Lucky Day," and "House Where Nobody Lives." I'm sure there are many more — if you have some please share. It is important to me and my children.
Comments? Ideas? Cool Tunes? Submit them here!