Archive for November, 2007

great music for kids: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Posted in FAMILY, music on November 6, 2007 by wrekehavoc

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is not my favorite Beatles album. (yes, yes, yes. no one needs to be lectured about this groundbreaking, innovative, astounding album, least of all me. i didn’t say i didn’t like it. i just said it wasn’t my favorite.) but for kids, this colorful and bright album is chockablock full of sounds and sonic styles. i remember putting on headphones and being simply awed by every tiny bit of audio joy on this pup — and i wasn’t even on anything.

you’ve got straightforward rock and roll. you’ve got groovy psychedelics. you’ve got a mystical indian offering (which, admittedly, i skipped each and every time i played the album when i was young. i loathed that stuff back then.) you’ve got orchestral moments. in short, the only things missing from here are jazz and countrified offerings. and who cares whether lucy in the sky with diamonds is about acid or not: it’s a wonderful song to sing with kids, as is with a little help from my friends. ringo’s delivery of the latter charms me to this very day.

this is a great chance to teach kids about different styles AND different instruments. listen for the harpsichord (fixing a hole), the harmonium (for the benefit of mr. kite), the sitar (within you, without you), the sax (good morning, good morning).  the swirling sound at the end of for the benefit of mr kite is an audiophile’s delight. and of course, all the animal sounds in good morning, good morning will delight any preschooler. it’s all there and more.

the sleeve art is legendary — you really need to see the album size to appreciate it (sigh, i mourn the days of albums, if only because CDs have completely marginalized album cover art.) and if you’re really, really lucky to own a non-US album version (or possess it on rarities), you might even have the end bit that is inaudible to humans but which has been annoying dogs now for 40 years.

great music for kids: Smithsonian Folkways Children’s Music Collection

Posted in BC (beloved child the elder), BS (beloved spouse), FAMILY, music, political animal on November 5, 2007 by wrekehavoc

on a whim, i purchased the smithsonian folkways children’s music collection CD when BC was a baby. it quickly became a firm favorite in our house. smithsonian folkways has some amazing recordings by some heavy hitters in american music: people like woody guthrie, leadbelly, pete seeger, and an old fave of mine, ella jenkins. you even have langston hughes reading some poetry on here. our faves ended up being woodie guthrie’s car song, seeger’s all around the kitchen, the animal alphabet song by alan mills, and whoopie ti yi yo, get along little dogies (cisco houston.) of course, with the latter, my fondest giggle is courtesy of BS and his dry humor. he would always sing it:

whoopie ti yo yo, get along little dogies
it’s your misfortune and not my own
whoopie ti yo yo, get along little dogies
you know that mcdonalds will be your new home.

yep. we start our kids on snarky from the get-go.

anyway, i grew up with a lot of folk music, thanks to my mom. and folk music is a wonderful way to introduce kids to a whole world of people. people like them. people with problems, people who are happy, people everywhere. folk music often has reflected the tenor of the times. i love a lot of folk music. and this CD is a fabulous jumping-off spot for the genre.

great music for kids: prokofiev’s the love for three oranges

Posted in FAMILY, music on November 4, 2007 by wrekehavoc

you have my father to thank for this one.

when i was a little girl, i loved to march around the living room to prokofiev’s march from the love for three oranges. the version we had was by an orchestra; my father has always loved symphonic music. in fact, i still remember when i was my father’s “date” to see the garden state philharmonic play. i couldn’t have been more than 6, and i felt so grown-up and thrilled to be seeing a real-live show. i couldn’t tell you what they played; but i just remember revelling in all the sound. (a far cry from when i was 9 and my parents took me to see the bolshoi ballet perform swan lake at the garden state arts center. i went home and promptly threw up. stomach upset or not a tchaikovsky fan? you make the call.)

but back to our friend prokofiev, a man who started out as a child prodigy, much like i did. (ha ha, just seeing whether anyone was still with me.) seriously, though, the kid wrote his first opera at age nine (so you moms out there who think your child is gifted need to seriously reassess whether junior is simply really good in math. or science. or reading. or in not picking his nose and eating it.) he ended up as an obnoxious and disliked enfant terrible in school (moms with supposedly gifted kids also take note: this could be your kid if you overinflate his/her ego.) fortunately, for him, his talent was real, so it didn’t matter whether he was maladjusted. all geniuses end up pretty screwed up.

it’s the price we pay 😉

anyway, you can read his thrilling history in many places, chockablock with crazy datapoints including the fact that he ended up dying the same day as stalin (which made his burial somewhat problematic.) but i’ll focus on the march. the opera itself is a nutty bit of Commedia Dell’Arte, fluffy stuff that matters little. but the march and the music? i think prokofiev figured that one out, as he threw together a suite for orchestras to play — no tenors needed, thankyouverymuch.

so put it on, and tell your child to imagine what’s happening in the music. march along with your kid. and hell, afterwards, break out some oranges.

great music for kids: the sound of music

Posted in FAMILY, music on November 3, 2007 by wrekehavoc

many in my kids’ generation have no earthly idea that there’s a second half to the film the sound of music. there are no nazis, no escaping austria, no emigrating to america. all they know is that there is this crazy nanny, played by julie andrews, who runs around singing and making the kids wear curtains. and then, mom or dad pauses the DVD, just before the creepiness sets in.

in fact, there are drag versions of TSOM, there are participatory versions a la rocky horror picture show, the muppets have done it, gwen stefani has sampled it, i suspect someone somewhere has put on an all-dog version. no matter. it’s the music that really makes this a great pick for kids. and besides, there are a zillion cultural references inside this gem. don’t keep the joy of running onto a great, green mountain meadow to yourself.

so save yourself the angst. skip the DVD and go borrow the soundtrack — julie andrews is still my fave as maria, though others have done well with the part — and start singing doe a deer, my favorite things, hell, my kids love my version of the lonely goatherd.

better they should hear that last one from you and not from gwen stefani.

great music for kids: Stax, Stax, Stax!

Posted in FAMILY, music on November 2, 2007 by wrekehavoc

people love motown, and i do, too. but there is nothing, and i mean nothing, better, to get yo’ ass out of yo’ comfy chair and dance than music from stax’s classic era. of course, i am wildly partial to this song — probably my theme song in life. but there are a bajillion more where that came from.

one thing i always loved about vintage stax is the fact that you have people — black people, white people — people from all walks of life who worked together to produce an amazing sound. at a time when civil rights was a dicey concept, you had a bunch of people who said no to racism and yes to music. integrated bands in a time when it was sometimes dangerous to even contemplate that idea. and that, my friends, is one of the greatest powers of music — it lets us rise above all our pettiness and brings us to another place.

it’s a wonderful teachable lesson for children. but even when you get past that– it’s got an amazing groove. you can dance to it. you will.

green onions. try a little tenderness (cos young girls do get woolly.) hold on’ i’m comin’. candy. respect yourself. you can even listen to the blues brothers to get a feel for the perhaps the biggest stax fans ever, john belushi and dan akroyd. and listen to duck dunn and steve cropper and the memphis horns. i can’t even begin to list all the songs i love that came out of that place.

so, in sum: fantastic music. great teachable lesson about why racism is a stupid idea. throw a dance party in your living room.

media mom month!

Posted in FAMILY, jools (also a beloved child), music on November 1, 2007 by wrekehavoc

welcome to november and NaBloPoMo. i’m your demented slacker mom host, wrekehavoc. i must write every single solitary day this month. i must, i must, i must increase my autobiographical writing output! one of my buds suggested themed weeks. well, math is hard for me, so i suspect i will have themes that may or may not take up a week. but the uber leitmotif of the month for me, i have decided is:

drumroll please:


yep. people are always asking me my opinions about music and books i like — or loathe — for kids. or for grownups. or in general. and lord knows, one month can’t contain all of my opinions cos i’m such an effing know-it-all. but i figure i might take a stab here and there. i will try to stray off the beaten path slightly. after all, if you wanted things on the beaten path, you wouldn’t be asking me, wouldya? (shoot, i live lightyears off the proverbial beaten path.) but i will try to keep my recommendations to things that regular folks can obtain from their local library…

…cos i heart my local library, and you should, too!

some preliminary food for thought — also known as re-runs or greatest hits (you know GH albums are merely repackaging, right?):

top ten favorite songs

julian’s first mix CD

the perils of classic rock, take two

this rant is all maddening’s fault

i may throw in other posts about life in general, but expect a month filled with my trite contributions to the blogosphere.

and probably some body fluids thrown in there somewhere. cos i know you expect that sort of thing from me 😉