January 1st - Songs to Grow on for Mother and Child
I don't want the kids to be grownup. I want to see the grown folks to be kids. - Woody Guthrie, 1956, from the liner notes.
If you're reading this, you survived 2016.
Some days, it honestly did not feel like it would end. It felt like this year would go on forever, taking our days and friends and mental health and heroes. But we made it to 2017, whatever that means. It will probably be worse than 2016 in several very concrete respects, for many people, but at the very least we're entering the new year with fewer illusions.
Like a lot of people, my 2016 was not all bad. In fact, against a very long, arduous, emotionally-draining background, my life took an incredible turn: my wife and I had a kid. After a remarkably great pregnancy and a pretty rough actual birth we settled in to raise a small human being that we are somehow responsible for. As such, I've become very interested in children's music.
There are two types of children's music that I absolutely love: there's the traditional, folk-song-y, Baby Beluga songs that you find in Rise Up Singing or on Raffi albums, and then there are the little tuneless songs that I - and probably every parent since time immemorial, from the lower primates on up - have made up to soothe their babies or interest their babies or just because it's weird to interact with a baby without communicating with them in SOME way, so why not make up a little song about powdering their butts? Sure, these tunes might not be very catchy or have rhymes that scan or lyrics that make sense, but at this point I'm sure Izzy has heard more of them than any other type of music.
Songs to Grow on for Mother and Child is both of these types of music. They're a bunch of very simple songs about swimming and asking questions and how you have to burp sometimes, written by a dad for his kids - but because that dad was Woody Guthrie they're all amazing classics. I had actually been singing Why, Oh Why? for three weeks before discovering this album because of Laura Veir's beautiful cover, and Little Sack of Sugar has become my go-to changing pad song. I Want My Milk (I Want It Now) sounds like a long-lost Dock Boggs song except it's written from the point of view of an infant. They're all amazing and, until I started this project, I had never heard of them.
Which is kind of why I'm doing this in the first place. I can't promise I'll be able to keep this up but I guarantee that together we can find some stuff we've never heard.
Click here to read liner notes and purchase this album from Smithsonian Folkways