Jerry v. Barney – musical options for parents

It’s hard to type with one hand, but I’m holding about ten pounds of baby boy in my left arm.  While I’m sure it’s nothing like what Def Leppard’s drummer goes through each time he takes the stage, it’s still proving to be quite the daunting task.


Learning to do things while holding a baby is one of the many life changes I’ve had to make since my son was born.  I’m learning to get by on less sleep.  I’m also coming to grips with the fact that I’m going to be subjected to countless TV shows, movies, and music that I’m going to hate.


Fortunately, there are options out there for us parents that don’t want to listen to the Wiggles and Barney.  I never really thought about it, because frankly, until about four weeks ago, it just wasn’t the issue for me that it is now.


David Grisman & Jerry Garcia - Noth For Kids Only The night before Jonathan was born, I walked into a music store and bought what’s probably the most famous of “cool” children’s music, Not For Kids Only by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman.  This disc is exactly what it says – not just for the little ones.  While the titles may be appealing to the kids – “There Ain’t No Bugs On Me,” “Teddy Bear’s Picnic,” and “A Horse Named Bill” grace the disc – the playing is as sophisticated and engrossing as any of Jerry and David’s other releases.


Taj Mahal There are other options for the parent who wants to listen to good music while in the presence of their children, however.  Other artists have made records for children – Johnny Cash put out The Johnny Cash Children’s Album.  Taj Mahal has Shake Sugaree:  Taj Mahal Sings and Plays For Children.  Buckwheat Zydeco put out an album, Choo Choo Boogaloo.  They Might Be Giants even released an album.


There are many compilations out there as well.  For Our Children 10th Anniversary Edition has one of the best lineups of the childrens albums that parents will be able to tolerate.  “This Old Man” sounds a lot better when it’s coming from Bob Dylan’s mouth.  Paul McCartney completely re-arranges “Mary Had A Little Lamb.”  Bruce Springsteen, Ziggy Marley, Sting, Elton John, James Taylor, and many other legends also grace this album. 


For The Kids For The Kids is another worthwhile disc.  It’s a compilation featuring Wilco (with Billy Bragg), Tom Waits and Guster among others.  “The Rainbow Connection,” sung by Sarah McLachlan is worth the price of the disc on its own.


Another compilation with a solid roster is Mary Had a Little Amp.  Featuring tracks by Jack Johnson, R.E.M., Graham Nash, Madonna, Moby, and others, this is another decent alternative.  Nash’s “Teach Your Children Well” isn’t so much a children’s song as a song about children, but it’s still great for the parents.


I’m sure there are others out there that I’m not aware of, and plenty of music that is kid-friendly without being aimed towards kids.  Either way, it’s good to know that there’s an option for parents who don’t want to be serenaded by a big purple dinosaur every time they get in the car with their little ones.