Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Cool Things I Noticed in a Song #3

Some people, I hear, always dreamed of being back-up singers. The Supremes for Diana. The Pips for Gladys. You know, that sort of thing. I won't lie. I think I only ever dreamed of being Diana and Gladys--but there's a special spot for really good back up.

And that's today's amazing insight into writing really terific kids' music. (And remember, I think about this sort of thing because I want to figure out how to do it really, life-changingly well).

#1 Best Use of a Righteous Back Up Band

"John the Rabbit": Elizabeth Mitchell, YOU ARE MY FLOWER

I love this song for the regular-guy-ness of it. Maybe she should have been Elizabeth Mitchell & the Yes Ma'ams . . . well, I mean, for that song at least. And try to imagine the song where Elizabeth just says those words for herself. Right. TOTALLY not the same.

A well-placed back-up can make a good song really terrific.

I think I'm going to put an ad up on Craigslist so that I can have a righteous back up band for my next CD:

WANTED: Regular people to say context-appropriate words over and over in order to aid impact of children's song. Call 1-800-BEMYRIGHTEOUSBACKUPBAND

I'll let you know if anyboy calls.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Cool Things I Noticed in a Song #2

Part 2 in an infinite series about the minutae of song writing for kids. Click here for Part 1. Or, um, scroll down to the post before this one.

Okay, so today's totally insightful insight about songwriting is all about chord strum. And I'm not going to leave you hanging with a bunch of cluttering personal sharing before I just get right to it and tell you this:

#1 Best use of dramatic chord strum:

(This is so easy to pick. I didn't even, like, think about it--I just KNEW the answer. . . .)

"I Want a Dog": Lunch Money, SILLY REFLECTIONS

Okay, now to the cluttering person sharing.

I chose this song because of its ability to make me wish I were playing it. Don't you just want to set up the microphone stand you have lying around your house and belt that soulful truth-telling line:

I want a [DRAMATIC, SOULFUL CHORD STRUM WITH A HOLD] Daahhhhh-ah-ah-ah-ah-g . . .

Not kidding. I want to sing that song everytime I hear it. Love it.

Plus, I think there ought to be more songs that address the reality of the hamster. But more on the insight of the lyrics later . . .

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Cool Things I Noticed in a Song

The (always) Lovely Mrs. Davis has posted a fabulously-specific and believable list of kids albums for parents who want to break into listenable kids music (and break out of the primary colored t-shirt thing). I've broken into and out of it all myself, but I'm still going to buy some of the albums she lists.

And she's inspired me. See, I've been listening to kids music in a strangely specific way myself these days. Since a good handful of my earliest songs can all be traced back to single melody that was the theme song for a show starring someone named Uncle Jed, I've been paying really close attention to how other artists add interest to their songs. Really cool lyrics, I get. That to me is the real fun of song writing. But how do you make your guitar and the rest of the stuff sitting around your house turn the song into something even better than just the lyrics could make it. (A real stretch for me as a poet by training.)

So, here's the first in my list of Cool Things I Noticed in A Song.

#1 Best use of non-irritating hand clapping:

"Oh Well": Scribblemonster, CHOCOLATE MILK

album cover

Click for a listen to see what I mean. There just aren't that many hand-clapping songs out there that actually make me want to clap. I always practically wreck my car when this song comes on.

Stay tuned for more scintillating insights on the minutiae of song-making.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Nifty New Show

We just booked with WEEKEND RECESS in L.A. for August (8/18). Mark your calendars, all you L.A.-ish people. (I think I know three of you.)

Weekend Recess is a once-a-month kiddie-music frenzy with games (there's even kid karaoke. C'mon.). They've been doing this event monthly at Hollywood's Knitting Factory and have just found a new venue. Pretty cool thing they're pulling off for kidlets in southern California.

We're excited. It sounds like a hoot--which is the standard for our travelling out of town to sing. "Will it be a hoot?"; "Um, yes, Maam, it promises to be a hoot."; "Okay, we'll go."