Foggy San Francisco summers call for a lot of indoor music-and-art days, so I thought I’d share a few favorite-ok-kind-of-weird albums we dance to a lot.
Lead Belly Sings for Children
Cute and disturbingly weird at the same time. Blues genius, frequent convict, and general oddball Huddie Ledbetter plays and sings for an audience of apparently suburban and white 8-year olds, with an insipid “teacher” interviewing him between tracks.
Listen as the little tykes sing along to the jaunty and uplifting “They Hung Him on the Cross,” followed up by “Midnight Special,” a song about his jailbird days. Lots of good field-hand work songs in there, too, very relevant to our Baby Einstein generation.
Ablum! by Duplex
Featuring some professional singers, some kids who can’t really sing, and bizarre-ass songs. Boo’s favorite is “Pooing and Peeing at the Same Time,” and who hasn’t posed that question at one time or another? And “DNA” prepares your kids for technology’s advances:
Just like animals in the zoo
They’re gonna clone you too
And if I lose my head
I’ve got another one in the fridge
Is it indie rock? Is it a preschool music class? Only you can decide.
Innocence & Despair, The Langley Schools Music Project
Rural Canadian pre-teens from the 1970s. A solo cover of “Desperado.” A chorus of kids doing “Space Oddity.” Need I say more?
OK, I will. I don’t know why but I find these gymnasium recordings of 1970s pop, sung by junior high school students with lots of percussion, completely mesmerizing. Kids that age have no volume knob, for one thing: “SWEET CAROLINE, DHUNH DHUNH DHUNH!”
I get chills.
And now the good one that’s actually good. I mean, all those good ones up there are really good ones, but this good one is good like even-your-grandmother-will-like-it good.
Sandra Boynton of greeting card and board book fame does the lyrics and artwork and her husband does most of the music, excepting the guest artists on this CD (Davy Jones, Brian Wilson, the Five-for-Fighting guy, and many others). B.B. King’s “One Shoe Blues” is worth the cost of the whole book, easily. Don’t download this one — get the book, really. It’s way fun.