Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Music Scrooge

I don’t believe in children’s music—which doesn’t mean I don’t believe in children engaging with music, just that I don’t know why children should be subjected to music that not only talks down to them, is irritating to the adults around them. “They like it,” you’ll hear parents say by way of justifying this annoying genre (they like TV and junk food, too, if you give them enough of it) but trust me, children like any and ALL music, even—and especially—your music, if you give them the chance. I wouldn’t read them books I didn’t enjoy with illustrations I didn’t like either.

I can also tell you that their father and I brought two sons into functioning adulthood without any of that crap—and it’s something they’ve continually thanked us for.

Although Matt's the music professional, my most vivid early memories of my children and music have to do with his younger brother, Adam, probably because of the dark winter when Adam was two and had pneumonia, which meant long weeks inside with just mom and the stereo. He spent hours dancing to the Beatles in front of the speakers, identifying which side of the album he wanted to hear by pointing to the cut or whole apple illustrated on the label. Among his other favorites were Bob Marley's “I shot the sheriff but I didn’t shoot the dead tree” and Paul McCartney’s “Man on the Rug." I remember trying to tear him away from Elton John’s "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" when we were late for a doctor appointment, by promising that we’d listen to the radio in the car. He was screaming “Yellow Brick Road! Yellow Brick Road!” as I carried him out and once in the car, insisted on hearing it there. I tried to explain that the radio played what it wanted, not what we wanted, but lost all credibility when I turned it on to find it playing—of course—“Yellow Brick Road.”

This all comes to mind as I’ve recently been spending much delightful time with various friends’ toddlers, loving the way 1-4 year olds are so trustingly imitative while remaining true to their emerging personalities—a combination that’s often hilarious. Then this morning Cary Smith sent me the link to this video of Thom Yorke singing the Radiohead classic “Weird Fishes” with orchestra (wait for the sound to start)…

…after which I found this, and it cracks me up:

Don't skip over the song links to the music videos above, each one better than the next, ending with Elton John accompanied by Muppets, the Sesame Street album being a big exception to my rule—because I enjoyed it. Happy parents, I always think, make for happy children. And why not give them something that enriches not only their present, but future life?


Adam's Culinary Creations said...

Those are actually my earliest memories, though I don't remember the pneumonia part. I also remember looking in awe at the big, bold cover of Magical Mystery Tour, and contemplating the oddity of Paul sitting in the trunk on the cover of Yesterday and Today. Even at an early age, I felt that I understood much of what was emoted through the lyrical content of those songs. And to this day, I still sing along to the Beatles. I listened to Abbey Road just last Saturday and marveled at their musical genius.

"And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make"

Even now, it still chokes me up a bit inside when I hear it.

deb said...

Some nights when one or two stories wasn't enough by way of bedtime reading I would put on books on tape for my children, and their favorite was always hitchhikers guide to the galaxy (the original BBC radio version)it still is even though they are much grown!

As to music, my son had a soundtrack in his head from the moment he could articulate it and would often say, "that's where such and such happens in that movie" when he heard music that was from a film, which has never ceased to amaze me since I am musically illiterate!

I avoided kids music because it made me crazy, I assumed it would do the same for them, they never seemed to mind....

Unknown said...

Adam's comments are so nice. I think I'm getting choked up too.

I would so love to broadcast ONLY mom music in the house... unfortunately 80% of it would be an abomination if it came out of the mouth of my three year old. His favorites though, that are either clean enough or obscured enough to listen to are TV on the Radio, Death Cab, Fiest, Gnarles Barkley, Blond Redhead, and on and on. That being said there is some sweet current music for kids by Tom Chapin and Kenny Loggins and Dan Zanes - all of it loved by mom and child alike.

I grew up listening to good music while watching the vinyl spin - but what I remember most (aside from the Beatles) are kickers like: Alan Parson's project ("time, flowing like a river, to the sea, who knows when we will meet again? if ever?), Abba (is this where the story ends? is this goodbye? knowing me know knowing you, there is nothing we can do") and Fleetwood Mac, ("if you don't love me now, you will never love me again, I can still hear you saying 'we will never break the chain")... so... um... yeah. Gee, do you think it had anything to do with my existential melancholy ages 8-11? (I found Depeche Mode by 12 and I blame THEM for what followed ;)

Silly Bus said...

Interesting Videos!!!