Now Hear This: Misfit Country

December 20, 2015

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Are you a total sucker for inspirational songs? It’s ok, you can admit it later.

I’m also an irrational disliker  of modern country music. I’ve tried, I swear. Please comment with a country song that will change my mind. I dare you. 

Through the wonders of my Discover Weekly list on Spotify, I’ve recently played to death enjoyed three psudo-country songs that share a beautiful common thread: Not fitting in. Whether they were judged and found wanting, or are just not measuring up to societal standards, these are musical offerings staring folks who don’t give a rip if you like them or not. And they’re country-ish at the least. BOOM. Horizons expanded.

Give a listen!

Elle King’s “America’s Sweetheart”

This is the 7th track off Elle’s Feb. 2015 album Love Stuff. Despite a handful of kind of cliched phrases in the verse, this is raucous anthem for girls who don’t feel the need to behave like perfect ladies. I also dig this because I, too, amfunny when I’m drunk (I think), and, unrelated, just aquired a stupid tiny chip in my front tooth. You just want to do a shot of whiskey and sing along with Elle here.

I also adore “Ex’s and Oh’s” from this album. Good stuff, Love Stuff.

Kacey Musgraves “Cup of Tea”

This is just a sweet little song that coos at you not to fear the blotches on your permanent record. The variety of sins and shortcomings listed are relateable but and entertaining. She reminds us that “We’ve all got the right to be wrong.” in a way that grants anyone permission to have hope, even if they’ve screwed up. Hey, I’ve screwed up! Sweet! “You can’t be be everybody’s up of tea”. Musgraves shakes off any judgement at the her final lyric, asking “Why would you wanna be?”

Her video for her song “Biscuits” is freakin’ infections and involves a puppet, in case you were wondering.

Josh Ritter’s “Getting Ready to Get Down”

This catchy song addresses some narrow-minded Christians forgetting that they know no more than anyone else, failing to leave the judging to God, and screwing with young people’s heads. It’s a little bit in the vein of Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young”. The girl to whom Josh is singing is sent away to bible college because she’s not fitting in with her town’s conservative ideals. Instead of coming around to their ways, she ends up absorbing all the acceptance and love messages in the Good Book, and none of the “Thou Shalt Not”s. Although I don’t presume to know Ritter’s feelings on certain major social issues of today, his lyric “Give your love freely to whomever that you please” hints at it nicely.

Plus, there is an official LINE DANCE to this song, people.

As you get quickly older and slowly wiser, you learn that whether some people like you has very little do with YOU. Thankfully there are pleasant songs like these to remind us. For instance, I have clearly judged country music unfairly. I’m sorry. There was all that association with confederate flags on the back of pick-up trucks.  However, Hubby has already requested I put in earbuds while working on this post.

Convince me that it’s not all honky-tonk bars and cowboy boots. What is your favorite “country” song?

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Op/Ed: Children’s Music

August 31, 2015

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

I’m writing this post on my phone, at a 5 & under children’s playplace. Don’t pity me too much. I’m the only parent hanging in the nice little seating area. I have my Dunkin. I have my shoes off. I’m not crawling through tunnels to rescue a screamer who’s too scared to go down the slide (anymore). It’s kind of nice, except for one small issue:

MY EARS ARE BLEEDING.

The ceiling speakers are loudly playing a list that alternates between Laurie Berkner, The Wiggles, and Kidz Bop. I don’t hate Laurie. I will after our two hours here. But the rest of it is pretty much creating a “Kill. Me. Now.” situation over here on the Uninvolved Mommy benches. And that’s just unnecessary. 

Disclaimer: I am an elementary music teacher. I’m not going to pretend that 12 years of this (awesome) job automatically makes me an expert in children’s music. Parenthood will do that for  you just fine, anyway. It does, however, make me opinionated about the subject. There is experience, research, and Master classes talking here. And they’re opinionated too.#sorrynotsorry

Parents, teachers, child-centered businesses, I beseech you: Play actual music for your children. Please.

Kidz Bop is only good for elementary school pep rallies when you want to seem cool enough to play music the kids will recognize, but not lose your job from parental complaints. There’s nothing wrong with pop – I love it. But I think it’s better to play the actual artist whenever you can. If you can’t, there’s a good chance the song isn’t a fabulous pick for kids anyway, even edited with words that rhyme with the objectionable stuff and vocals by (what sounds like) freaky castrati.

Laurie Berkner does some nice stuff; a few covers of folk songs and mostly songs about kid stuff. I like her acoustic approach and she’s a decent vocal model for children (they can match her voice and sing along). But it all sounds pretty much the same and I can’t take more than 15 minutes without wanting to go all Pete Townsend on her guitar. 

smashing-guitars_zpsd08a765d

And screw the Wiggles. Just screw ’em. I’ve been here for an hour and if one of those mates showed up to give a free concert it would take all my self control not to kick him Down Under. 

Please: Play decent recordings of folks songs. Put on “classical” (instrumental) music. There is a ton out there (See below) that is lively and engaging, the perfect sound track to imaginative play. Mix that up with pop songs that *gasp* YOU like, as long as you think they’re ok for your kids to hear.

Here’s a great CD set for this instrumental music that’s got some oomph:

Music for Creative Movement“, GIA public (click the title to find the CD on sale).

903

Play music that was written for the sake of Music, not to give children something kiddie friendly to listen to. There is already so much music out there for them.

That said, I’m sure there’s some newer ones out there, but here are my favorite “children’s” albums with as little ear bleeding as possible:

“Here Come the ABCs” by They Might Be Giants

TMBG_ABC

 

Any of Sandra Boynton’s full book albums

sub4boynton-master315

“Snack Time” by the Barenaked Ladies

71w08ssvjcL._SL1300_

I realize this list is pretty dated. My kids are 8 and 5, and their mommy has Spotify. (We don’t buy full kids albums anymore.)

What are some of your favorites? Have you banned any albums from your home or car?

Have you ever fantasized about dropping a certain Australian singing group to the playroom floor?

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on TumblrEmail this to someone