This time of year usually brings a lot of travel to visit family and friends, which means lots of time spent in the car. If your children are like mine, they want to hear music they enjoy rather than what you might want to listen to. And if you are like me, hearing Itsy Bitsy Spider one more time will cause you to lose your mind. Because of this, I’ve made it a point to find great music that is child appropriate and parent friendly. Through trial and error, I’ve found a neutral ground of music that I can stand to listen to and my children ask to hear.
When I was young, I have very fond memories of going through my father’s record collection and picking out things to listen to. He even had some records just for me like Peter, Paul, and Mommy. I can recall exactly what the cover to the album looks like and my favorite songs on that record to this day. And driving in the car with him meant listening to the oldies station, which brought about a love for Simon & Garfunkel and The Mamas & The Papas. It’s memories like these that I’m hoping to make with my children.
I know that exposing my children to a favorite song or artist of mine is always an exciting moment, and I hope they love the music as much as I do. When my older daughter was a baby, one of the only songs I could remember all the words to was, There Is A Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths. Not exactly child appropriate but it still soothed her when I hummed or sang it. And when my youngest is napping in the car, I put on the Rockabye Baby The Smiths Lullaby Renditions and the mood just calms.
I also want my children to appreciate all the amazing music that we have in New Orleans. Music is engrained in the culture down here. Before she could talk, my oldest daughter was dancing to brass bands at the Mardi Gras parades. And now that she can talk, she prefers to hear the Wild Magnolias sing Shoo Fly rather than the children’s version of the song. My youngest daughter is showing a preference to The Beatles, which I find amazing. If I put on Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da she starts kicking her feet and laughing. And just the other day my older daughter asked, “Why is the submarine yellow and not blue? I want it to be blue.” Good question, Pearl. You’ll have to speak to Sir McCartney about that one.
So keeping all of these things in mind, I created a list of songs that both children and adults will like. It runs the gamut from local favorites like Buckwheat Zydeco and Dr. John to mainstream music stars like Barenaked Ladies and R.E.M. Of course, there are some oldies on there as well which recall my childhood. And no children’s playlist would be complete without Dan Zanes and Elizabeth Mitchell. Even if you don’t like everything on this list, I guarantee there will be at least one song that everyone can enjoy, The Hot Dog Dance by They Might Be Giants! Hot dog!