children’s music for adults

If you’re a music fan with children, you’re constantly trying to bridge the gap between kids music and adult music. The children’s music industry is constantly hurling music like Raffi, Barney or The Wiggles at your child.

There’s a somewhat delicate balance to maintain between providing music for your child that is fun, appropriate and teaches them about music and music that you, too, can enjoy on some level.

One of the considerations is obviously lyrics. The majority view is that if the lyrics are inappropriate, then so is the song. However, how many songs can you remember listening to when you were little that only as an adult did you realize exactly what the lyrics were really saying?

A friend of mine was telling me recently about growing up listening to the Hair soundtrack. She said that she would sing along with “Sodomy,” only to realize years later what the lyrics actually meant.

So I find myself listening to many Flight of the Conchords songs with my 4 year old daughter. “Foux du Fafa” is fortunately her favorite, and not at all controversial. However, when songs like “If You’re Into It” come on, I find myself either cringing or just taking it off.

Another factor for me is if the song is sung by kids. It just seems very condescending to me that children’s songs have to be sung by kids. And it’s never just one child. It’s always a group of kids. There’s probably some clinical, well-researched reason behind this, but I just don’t feel the need to re-enact driving around with a daycare center in my car. So we steer away from those completely.

Fortunately, at this point, some of the bands I grew up with now have kids of their own and are feeling compelled to make children’s music. They Might Be Giants is probably the most well-known of this group, but Barenaked Ladies have also released a CD. For you Deadheads, Jerry Garcia also released an album of children’s songs – Not For Kids Only – about 15 years ago.

I’ve found it very possible – and really fun – to find music in my own library that is appropriate and fun for my daughter. Here’s a sample of what I’ve come up with that she really likes:

There’s also some good songs that were intended for kids that are excellent adult fare, as well. Check out “I Got Six” from Schoolhouse Rock…

“Pictures of Pandas Painting” from They Might Be Giants is also a great psychedelic groove. Here’s a video of it, preceded by “Ooh La! Ooh La!” – not a bad song, either (though more kid-centric).

“Catch That Train,” from Dan Zanes, is a slower folksy song, but if you’re into that (which I am, from time to time), it’s a very solid single…

As I was sitting here finding music for me and my daughter to check out on this sunny Sunday morning, I was thinking of how much fun discovering music is – not only for myself, but with my daughter, too. For those of you with kids, take some time to explore it.


1 Response to “children’s music for adults”

  1. August 31, 2009 at 5:29 am

    Yes, yes! We also play Dead Can Dance for our kids! William Orbit, Peter Gabriel. Ahmal and the Night Visitors, The Shoe Bird, Seth Glier, The Nields. These are some of our fam faves. There is so much to be enjoyed that isn’t marketed specifically for kids. Our kids will put on our dance mix CDs from the 80s & 90s regularly. What I like about you! They know every word.

    We also recommend Bill Harley for stories that are enjoyable for kids and adults, with much silliness, humor, and some depth, too.

    Check out Jitterbug.com for indie band videos for kids–there are some interesting, offbeat bands there to discover.

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