The Soundtrack of your Life

There comes a time in every mother’s life where she has to make a difficult decision -- a life-altering decision about the very-nature of her family life. A choice that will set the tone and the tune for road trips, mornings in the kitchen, evenings cooking dinner, and many moments in between. Should she embrace music recorded and marketed specifically for children and families (Disney movie soundtracks, Kidz Rock, Laurie Berkner) or follow her own musical interests? She must choose: Raffi family? Or Rolling Stones family?

In contemplating this far-reaching decision, she may hear statements like, “Its really not that bad!” or even, “Its pretty cute!” from parents who profess to take pleasure in “music that both parents and children can enjoy!” These may be the very same parents who can be seen happily singing along to Sesame Street Platinum as they drive around with their 6 month old. They may be the parents who can belt out the Wiggles’ “Toot, Toot, Chugga Chugga Big Red Car” without a trace of irony, self-doubt, or embarrassment. A mother who sees herself this way can declare her intentions to be a Raffi family, invest in the entire Sesame Street Song collection, and sing along to her heart’s content.

A mother less certain of her proclivities may instead choose to peruse album and song titles, where she will undoubtedly see words like, “Tummy” and “Yummy” with a few animal sounds thrown in for good measure. (“Moo!”) Should the song titles and her sense of personal dignity not deter her from embracing kids’ music, she should be forewarned that it’s a slippery slope. Much like deciding to go with the minivan, once you go down this road, it may be hard to return. In the case of children’s music, its not the “convenience” that keeps a family hooked, but the whining children in the backseat, calling “please, just play “willaby wallaby” one more time!” and the parents who are understandably so desperate to calm the frenzy that they willingly relenquish all musical control.

Of course, choosing to follow your own musical interests is not without its drawbacks. A well mannered mother may be frequently forced to forward to the next song or get comfortable hearing her 4 year old quietly sing, “I wanna be sedated” while doing a puzzle. And she’s not likely to have much luck convincing him that the lyrics are actually “I wanna be successful.” Even with a 4 year old. In no time at all, a mother of independent musical tastes may find herself cornered, and asked, “Mom, what’s an amphetamine?” At that point, she might reconsider the Grateful Dead steal your face onsie and coordinated baby-sized rasta tam that she found so cute only a few short years ago.

So, how is a well mannered mother to maintain both musical and parental standards? (Not to mention her dignity.) We suggest she take the time to enjoy R.E.M. on Sesame Street, or the Shins on Yo Gabba Gabba. Find those “real” musicians making “real” music for families and children. Sift through her existing music collection, and music new to her, for safe songs and make family playlists. Because it would be better to be listening to Drivin’ n Cryin’ in the car than to actually be driving and crying.


Liz said...

Never could stomach children's music. Actually, my son never really liked it, either.

Hugo said...

I'm gonna say the perfect mix is the Ting Tings "Happy Birthday" song. Something for everyone. Keep up the great writing!

Elizabeth Baxter Butcher said...

Thanks Elizabeth. great topic. I have also had good luck with Pandora. Song select more than album select. And why does song select not play the song you select right away? After all that's the song that popped into your head so you would think they would play that first, non? Bit high handed really. But I digress. Also itunes genius is great but you have to have uploaded the good kiddie music to begin with.

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