Thursday, October 13, 2011

Adult-Friendly Kids' Music

Although not particularly musical, Jen and I are very into music.  If you've read our "About Us" you'll know we met at a concert.  Attending live shows is a favourite past time of ours. 

Of  course, music was important before we met, I have fond memories of dancing around the sunroom of my childhood home with my dad to Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al."  Toronto had an all-Beatles radio station in the 80s that was on at our neighbour's house every time we went over.  I still can sing along to almost any Beatles song I hear.

When The Bean was days old we played him Death Cab For Cutie while he slept.  Now that he's older we've been looking into finding music for him that we also enjoy listening to.  I know a ton of kids who love The Wiggles, but I don't know how much "Big Red Car" -or whatever it's called- we could take.

At the beginning of the summer we read a bunch of reviews and ended up ordering a handful of CDs meant specifically for The Bean, but also for us, 'cuz you know, we've got to listen to them too.

Mind of My Own by Frances England has been a favourite.  I'll fully admit that I've found myself turning up the radio in the car when playing it, even when The Bean is home with Jen.  The lyrics are lively and positive and are on topics which are revelant to children.  Her voice is lovely and the musical accompaniment is fantastic. 

Elizabeth Mitchell's, You Are My Sunshine is another album we picked up at the beginning of the summer.  It's got a calm folk vibe and makes for nice quiet music.  I believe some of the songs are original, while others are traditional folk songs.

The Nields' Rock All Day, Rock All Night is a CD set Jen really wanted to get.  She's been a fan of The Nields since before I met her.  They used to play in Pittsburgh often and she would go see them play live.  A few years ago we went to The Clearwater Folk Festival and they were playing on the family stage.  We went over and watched their set.  It was fun!  In the years between then and now we've often joked to each other about "The Enemy Called Pants" (one of the songs they had played)... now that we have an eight month old, we know what they were singing about!  "Organic Farm" is our most recent favourite off this album.  The Nields have a distinctive sound, so I'd suggest listening to a song or two before committing to this album, just in case they aren't your thing.     

Jack Johnson's Sing-a-longs and Lullabies for the  film Curious George is an album I've had for a while.  A parent of a student gave me a copy a few years ago because we do a unit on recycling and it has a song on it called "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle".  We bought another copy for us.  We're Jack Johnson fans, so this album has been great to have. 

Recently we've been thinking about adding a few additional selections to our collection.  Maybe another Frances England CD.  I've also heard good things about They Might Be Giants.  Then there are the traditional folksters like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie (although I don't know that I could handle a song like "Swimmy Swim Swim" any better than I could handle "Big Red Car".)  Any suggestions from other parents out there?  What do your kids like listening to?  How about recommendations for kid-friendly adult music?  Feist's 1,2,3,4?   Tegan and Sara's Alligator?


  1. My kids LOVE the Barenaked Ladies' album 'Snack Time' and it's fun for adults too. Also, we have one of the kids' CDs by They Might Be Giants (ABCs) and it's great. Right now my kids are also into Bob Marley because a friend bought them a Bob Marley CD for kids (it's called B is for Bob.) They LOVE it and my 4-year-old is walking around singing, "Bend down low, let me tell you what I know..."

  2. I'm probably not the best person to ask, since we just sang Margaritaville to Curly the other night as his lullaby :)

    Good taste in music though!

  3. Thanks for the suggestions Shannon! We'll have to check out the Barenaked Ladies CD. A few years ago I put together a CD for my classroom of child-friendly Beatles' songs. I imagine the Bob Marley CD you were given is similar.

    Strawberry, I love that! The Bean has been known to listen to A Chorus Line... not exactly "kids" music, but it's not Kesha's TiC ToK, so it could be worse.... right?

  4. Speaking of Broadway music, I was playing The Broadway Kids for Erik tonight and he loved it. Another good one for kids and adults - I had fun listening to it too.

  5. Have you heard any of the Rockabye Baby! albums? They have taken well-known bands and turned their music into lullabies. We will often play their U2 or Coldplay albums for the girls during their bedtime feed.

  6. Thanks for the suggestions Shannon and Ashleigh. Both sound like albums we would enjoy.

    Ashleigh, do the Rockabye Baby! albums have lyrics, or is it just the music?

  7. I love this post! Music is super important to Kyle and I, and when Mikey was first born we played him Abby Road whenever we gave him a bath. Now, he loves the radio (Q107 in particular, which is pretty hilarious) and I like to play Wilco, Camera Obscura, and Forest City Lovers for him (all are kid-friendly as far as I can tell). Kyle, on the other hand, has been playing him Motley Crue when I'm not home, which is totally not appropriate, but apparently he dances his little heart out.

    I'm totally on board with Frances England - I think she's just marvelous! I love compilation CDs so I picked up a copy of Kidzapalloza (volume 1 I think) from the library and really enjoyed it (which is where I first heard Frances England). It's got Perry Farrell, Deborah Harry, Lisa Loeb and a really fun kid's rapper named Secret Agent 23 Skidoo on it, and while some tracks are better than others it's a good for getting a little taste of what's out there. The library also has a ton of the Rockabye Baby! albums if you'd like to sample them - they're hilarious.

  8. Thanks for the reminder to check out CDs at the library, shessosaucy. I often forget what a great resource the library is. I need to order a Mighty Machines DVD for work, so I should request some of the CDs that have been suggested at the same time.