Music Has the Right To Children


Music has the right to children

Is the title of an album by Boards of Canada. My kids loathe this album in the same way, I think, that I loathe most of their musical choices. But does music have the right to children? In this great age of non discrimination, I don’t see why not.

I recently wrote an article for MyKidsTime about kids music and adult’s music. We received an incredible response to this article. Honestly! Our mail bags were quite literally not empty.

The idea that we can find a musical middle ground between parents and kids seems to be a very popular one. A popular idea, but, according to many, highly unachievable. Most who corresponded on this were being driven crazy by their kids’ music and saw no realistic way to break this cycle.  I was inclined to agree. My kids don’t really like Jonathan Richman. I only make them like it in the same way I make them like broccoli.

But, I don’t give up so easy. I had a hunt around and found an album called “Colours are Brighter” by various artists, some of whom I like a lot. By sheer co-incidence this album contains a song by Jonathan Richman. The rest of the album contains established artists doing kids songs. Jonathan is just singing songs like he normally does.

The album is definitely aimed at finding that mystical middle ground that I’m banging on about. Here’s my track by track review of it.

Four Tet – Go, Go Ninja Dinosaur

“He’s fast, he courageous, he’s ninja dinosaur”.
So begins the 1st track from electronic-jazz-experimentalist Kieran Hebden aka Four Tet. We also have a Princess Watermelon (no idea!) providing excellent vocals.
Although critically lauded, Four Tet’s complex “free form jazz” beats are not for everyone. However, this is a great introduction to electronic music for your kids. I’m a Four Tet fan – I saw him play the Roisin Dubh in Galway recently and it was a stunning show. Even for those who don’t actually believe in ninja dinosaurs (I do!) this is a tremendous choon.

Rasputina – A Skeleton Bang

I’ve no idea who Rasputina is and unlike most reviewers I’m not gonna cheat by looking her up on my Google.
I like this track though. It’s kind of sounds like Bach chamber music but as far as I’m aware the great man had very little to say on the subject of “(friendly) skeletons banging their head on tombstones in the cemetery”. So this is a most welcome addition to the canon.

Franz Ferdinand – Jackie Jackson

The Scottish band won the coveted 2004 Mercury Music Prize with their eponymous album. I was never a fan to be honest and comparisons with bands such as Talking Heads (who I don’t like either) seemed on the money. But this is a really fun song about a greedy boy called Jackie Jackson who simply can’t stop eating cakes. He loves to stuff his face. At twenty cakes he’d had plenty, but then he had another eight. He stops at twenty-eight but only because he ran out of cakes. But then he buys more and keeps eating. And more, and more, and more, until he has two hundred cakes.
If, on the off chance your kid likes cakes too they’ll love this song.

Snow Patrol – I am an Astronaut

To me, only the risible Coldplay embody the very worst excesses of “sap rock” more than Snow Patrol. Sorry if you’re a fan. I’m aware they’re quite popular. This is a really good song though. I’ve no complaints here.
“I am an astronaut, Daddy is away, Mummy is asleep, I am a polar bear”
Excellent themes here. This is a song that teaches kids to be anything they want. Perhaps Snow Patrol have found their niche at last. But where is Daddy? We need details.

The Divine Comedy – Pooh Trilogy

The highlight of the album. This song, in three parts, has more than a nod to the philosophical meanderings of AA Milne’s great work.
You won’t have to work hard to get your kids to enjoy it. From part three,
“Things look bad for him and we”,
“I mean he and us”
“I’ve never known them worse”.
Kids love this kind of word play. By jings, they invented it!

The Kooks – The King and I

I don’t much care for The Kooks. Too “kooky” by half.
And this song sucks and blows in equal measures.

Half Man Half Biscuit – David Wainwright’s Feet

Most famous for their iconic 80’s student anthem “All I want for Christmas is a Dukla Prague away kit”. HMHB have always had a quirky, childish side.
This song gets the album back on track. This is a really catchy tune about feet. Your child will be uplifted by the songs spirit and humanity and, more importantly, will come away with important life-long messages about the importance of good foot care.

The Barcelona Pavilion – Tidy Up, Tidy Up (Edit)

Another electronic back-beat here to test your kid’s patience. It goes boom, boom, boom, boom and the lyrics are questioning why things are lying on the ground. It urges us to pick the stuff up, not just leave it lying there in a slovenly manner. Yes, this is a drum’n’bass song about tidying up. It finishes with the repetition “tidy-up, tidy-up, tidy-up, tidy-up, tidy-up” .I’m hoping this will seep into my kids consciousness but I hold extremely low hopes.

Jonathan Richman – Our Dog Is Getting Older Now

Heeeere’s Jonny! And now his dog is getting older, has trouble coming up the stairs, you gotta help him sometimes, cos his back legs they wobble. You gotta help him stand so he doesn’t topple. But wait, this isn’t any old dog it’s a hated pit bull terrier. But he’s not mean and he loves children. Important, profound message here. Children should never discriminate against pit bull terriers. Pit also bulls have the right to children.

Belle & Sebastian – The monkeys are breaking out the zoo

Against my better instincts I really like B&S. I fought it for years but then I gave up. They’ve yet to make a bad album. If you haven’t heard them I’d urge you to do so.
They’re kind of fey and arty but they make great music. This, bizarrely, sounds nothing like them at all but it is a decent song which encourages monkeys to escape from the zoo. It is them though. As far as I know.

Ivor Cutler – Mud

I know this song of old. The late, great Ivor Cutler is a hero to many in his native Glasgow and the world over. Devotees include Paul McCartney, Billy Connolly and John Kelly will regularly slot one of his songs or poems in between Beethoven and Aphex Twin on Lyric FM. Collaborations with Robert Wyatt have even taken him into the jazz-rock arena.
Cutler is an ingenious poet and songwriter who, like Jonathan Richman, writes on childish themes with great profundity. This is a wee song about getting mud on your shoe.

Flaming Lips -The Big Ol’ Bug Is The New Baby Now

Another dog song. A couple of years ago The Flaming Lips threatened to be The Next Big Thing! A stadium rock band to be reckoned with. Thankfully this didn’t happen. This is a lovely song. A great kid’s song. And I realised they sound pretty much like they do when they’re being an adults band. It’s a great big sonic anthem with loads of heart and barking at the end.

Kathryn Williams – Night Baking

Reminiscent of songs from one of our more bearable children’s albums by Lisa Loeb called “Catch The Moon”. This is quite pleasant and is about going to sleep and dreaming about baking a cake. We sprinkle dreams around, a pinch of a hugs, spoon full of stories, stir in a pillow and while you sleep the cake will rise.
You see what she’s done. Clever stuff! But there’s more. We cut the cake with the moon and eat it with the stars. Enough! Acht, this is a pleasant enough song. Not it’s not, it’s crap! Make it stop. Phew!


Colours Are Brighter is available to buy on Amazon:

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