Wow, I can’t believe it is Thanksgiving tomorrow! I have been so busy this fall that it feels as though summer were yesterday and I am almost ready to start making Halloween costumes. But I’ve done that, and so much more. I miss writing every day on this page but, as my daughter tells me, I have 8 jobs now. So much of what I used to do I just don’t have time for. But music, music I always have time for. As a blogger I am sometimes sent music (totally free, which is awesome!), and I have been listening this fall with my kids for, oh, wow, I guess two or three months now. Some we love, some we meh over, but all of it we are thankful for. Here are a few albums we have been especially thankful for recently.
Rock-n-Roll Yearbook – The Bazillions
Yeah, I know, this album came out as school was starting, so why am I telling you about it in November? Well, because it is amazing. They don’t need any help promoting it, it won a Parent’s Choice Award after all, but I would be remiss in skipping over it on this list. This is music to be thankful for.
Where to begin? How about the high octane energy that captures how we feel about a New Pair of Shoes? Because, be honest, don’t you still feel that way? Give it a listen. And then slow it down for a contagious samba that tells the story of Queen Ellen of the Spelling Bee. But is it all fun and games? Well, yes, but there are lessons to be learned. Keep Your Identity Safe brilliantly and subtly weaves an important life lesson, that is sadly relevant to today’s kids, into a superhero playground ballad. But really the whole album is worth leaving on repeat.
Totally Osome – Danny Weinkauf
Speaking of albums that we have been jamming to for months, can we talk about Danny Weinkauf? Talk about thankful. He practically oozes gratitude for life and other humans in this collection of songs that, every time it comes onto the iPod, causes my wife to say “Oh, this is really good.” She is far pickier than I am.
Need a Thanksgiving theme song this year? Tired of “5 Fat Turkeys” and “Over the River and Through the Woods,” ad nauseum? Try out Sunshine Sunny Sun Sunshine Day and then tell me it doesn’t make you grateful to be alive. And Osome is somehow both educational and infectious, joyful and chill, upbeat and grounding. If I had to pick one song I was grateful for this year, it might be Osome. But I could really gush about every track. A Song About Anything and I’m a Girl Step Aside are standouts, as is the disco-rocking Alphabet Tebahpla, but one of my favorite times of the year was debating with my daughter over which was better, Smartphone or Put Down That Smartphone. She prefers the former, I gravitate towards the latter, but they are both great. If you missed this album a few months ago, find it now. You’ll thank me.
Songs of Peace and Love for Kids and Parents Around the World – Ladysmith Black Mambazo
This album is a little different from the others on the list, and in a good way. If you know Ladysmith Black Mambazo, then I don’t need to go any further because you already have this album. Maybe you heard them for the first time with Paul Simon on his Graceland album like I did, or maybe you’ve heard them on Sesame Street, or in concert, or on YouTube. But they are one of the top touring African vocal groups in the world, and this collection of songs and stories from South Africa is something to be very thankful for.
It took a minute for my kids to get into this very different style of music, and by different style I mean not over-produced, with stories and explanations preceding every track. But once we got to Everything’s So Stupid they were laughing and singing along. Different Colors Mean Nothing to Me was also a favorite, although I don’t think anything can top the Zulu version of Old MacDonald. If you’ve never heard that old chestnut sung in Zulu, then you owe it to yourself, and your children, to check it out.
Lullaby Girl – Lisa Loeb
Hey, need a new lullaby album? Or just need to relax in an energizing way? Do not miss this one. It only came out last month, so I feel more on top of things recommending it to you. We put this on in the car at the end of a long drive and just coasted all the way home on loveliness and smiles. Every track that came had my wife and I turning to each other in delight, not even needing to say anything. We knew. Without words, so the kids would continue drifting to sleep, we would tell each other “good song!”
Be My Baby? Great choice for a lullaby! Don’t Stop? Wow, who woulda thunk?! Lisa Loeb, I guess. Dream a Little Dream? Solid. O-o-o Child? Now that is inspired. Rainbow Connection? Yeah, she gets me. Lisa Loeb gets me. These are the songs I want my children to be listening to, and I am so thankful that this album exists. Thanks, Lisa.
Songs From the Monkey House – Jack Forman
So this album is another fun fall offering that came about from Jack’s conversations with actual children. This is why I never see what’s coming, and my kids get it completely. See, this is genius. Kids think of tons of stuff that we boring grown-ups never would. Brilliant move.
Like, for instance, Yodeling Yoda. It seems so obvious once you hear it, but that only underlines the smart simplicity of the complicated singing style merged with Star Wars. Perfection. Dog Park is basically just talking about dogs at the dog park, which is something my kids love to do. And of course, I Lost My Lunch is full of all the best gross double-entendres that your kids will crack up over.
Beanstalk Jack – Paper Canoe Company
Okay, and here it is. The best for last. And this one isn’t even out until Groundhog Day (Feb 2, 2018)! Beanstalk Jack is a folk opera that tells the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk, which was probably already enough to make it my favorite thing of the moment, but dang if it isn’t also really good. Don’t be scared by the “opera” part. This is a collection of folk songs that tell a story, and it does a great job with it. Any of the tracks can be listened to on its own, and they stand up. But put together you have something truly magical. I’m saving this for our next road trip!
Beanstalk Jack leads off the album, and it’s a good thing it does. This catchy tune will hook you for the rest of the story. Think of this album like a Netflix series that you didn’t mean to binge watch, but every bit left you yearning for the next. The haunting Look at Us Now is a standout, as is Upseedoodledo which doesn’t need an album around it to become a campfire classic. Also, and I can’t believe I didn’t mention this earlier (other than she is probably sick of that being the first thing people say to her), but this project was masterminded in part by Tami Stronach who played the child empress in the film The Neverending Story. But she’s done tons of cool stuff since then (Google her), and this is one of that stuff. She provides the voice of “Harmony,” the giant’s daughter who, in this version of the story, falls in love with Jack and has a dance party.
So rock out to Lonely Boy, dance like crazy to Hey Wow, or relax to All the Pretty Things. Just be grateful that you have the chance to experience this music. It is truly a privilege. Thanks to all music-makers everywhere, and thanks to those who appreciate them. It is truly a pleasure.