I don't like to change posting dates, but I'm adding so many songs here, and this predates the time a lot of people started visiting the site, so I'm making an exception here. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, or something like that. Originally posted April 2, 2006. Last revised May 16, 2006 I'm ignoring the fact that the baseball season is one game old. Baseball starts Monday, during the day, and nobody can tell me otherwise. There are very few sports-related children's songs that come to mind. I can understand why, as sports like football and hockey require a lot of equipment and are typically for older kids (this is especially the case for football). Basketball and baseball are easier to play, perhaps -- less equipment, introduced at an earlier age. Since the major sports typically become mostly a spectator sport as we grow up, perhaps it's good that there isn't much children's music about sports since a song about watching other people do something is kinda depressing as a kids' song. (It does make me think that the genre of children's soccer songs is a niche waiting to be filled.) In any case, the list of songs about baseball for all ages is reeeeeeaaaaalllllllly short. (OK, not so short anymore) Here goes: -- "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" (well, duh) -- try Wiggleworms Love You, from the Old Town School of Folk Music (nicely bipartisan, cheering for both the Cubs and White Sox) -- "Baseball Dreams" -- off At the Bottom of the Sea, by Ralph's World (Cubs all the way in this one) -- "I'm Gonna Catch You" -- off Under a Shady Tree, by Laurie Berkner (it has one relevant line -- "So I jumped into Saturday / And I had a baseball batter-day" -- yeah, I'm really reachin' here) -- "Centerfield" -- off Centerfield, by John Fogerty (not kids' music, but a great song anyway) -- "Talkin' Baseball -- off countless albums by Steve Cashman, who just re-records and updates his song -- baseball history lesson in 3 minutes -- "Big Train" -- off the RTT's Turn It Up Mommy!, as noted in the comments. About Walter "Big Train" Johnson. I'd probably disagree that he's the best pitcher ever, but that's another blog. Good song. -- "Right Field" -- Peter, Paul and Mary. Again, see the comments. -- "Cryin' in the Dugout" -- off Daddy-A-Go-Go's upcoming Eat Every Bean and Pea on Your Plate album. A humorous song -- "Baseball Dreams" played for laughs instead of nostalgia. -- "The Greatest" -- Kenny Rogers. See the comments. -- "Roll Around" -- Peter Himmelman, off of his My Lemonade Stand CD. A fun, rollicking song about a baseball who retires, then comes back to his calling. And finally, an artist reviewed here on this very site wrote me to suggest four more songs, including at least one I'm miffed I forgot... the comments in quotes are the artist's, not mine. -- "Catfish" -- off Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series. I am unfamiliar with this one. But it's Dylan. -- "Joe DiMaggio’s Done it Again" -– Wilco and Billy Bragg, from their Mermaid Ave Vol. 2 -- "A Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request" –- Steve Goodman – "Classic, and very funny." See "Talkin' Baseball," above. -- "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" -- Brave Combo - "two very cool versions... wacky and fun." It's Brave Combo, how could it not be fun? If any of you have more suggestions (or can point me to a family-friendly soccer song), leave me a comment.
I heard "Spaghetti (Twist and Twirl)" today and I remembered how much I like the song. So much so, that I've decided to start a "Song of the Day" series -- we'll see how long it stays "Song of the Day" before it becomes "Song of the Week" or "Song of the Lunar Cycle" -- and inaugurate it with this song. To call Brave Combo a "polka band" seems to sell them short a bit -- they are a whirlwind of musical energy. Paired up with long-time children's music artists Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, their 2001 album All Wound Up! is a bundle of enthusiasm and lots of fun. Without a doubt, though, the standout track is the penultimate song, "Spaghetti (Twist and Twirl)." The song is about a chef at an Italian restaurant and his frustration with the kids who want nothing more from his talents than plain old spaghetti. Lyrically, it's amusing to the adults and empowering to the kids, who can sing "Spaghetti!" or "Twist and Twirl!" But it's musically that this song really gets me. Its energy is infectious -- it's great for dancing foolishly with your kids. And sonically... for most of the song it's the bass line with the melody above it, a different melody each for the verses and the chorus and the bridge, and then near the end they sing the chorus and the bridge simultaneously. To top it all off, at the very end they add a fourth musical line out of nowhere but that fits perfectly. Really, it reminds me of the New Pornographers' "The Laws Have Changed," one of my favorite songs, in the overlayering of musical themes. A whole album of songs like that would just leave me incapacitated for days afterward. It's best taken in limited doses. You can hear a snippet of "Spaghetti (Twist and Twirl)" here. Links to audio and video of "The Laws Have Changed" are here.
Parents are familiar with serendipitous combinations -- peanut butter and jelly, Bert and Ernie, diapers and the Diaper Genie. But some combinations aren't nearly as obvious. Brave Combo is Texas band that plays polka (among other things) and Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer have been making kids music for 20 years. You wouldn't necessarily think that they would be making music together, but in All Wound Up!they have made one energetic album that should get your child dancing. (Warning: The Surgeon General has recommended that you do not play this album right before bedtime.) The songs are lots of fun and cover a broad range of styles, helpfully listed in the liner notes. Some songs are Fink & Marxer originals -- "I Will Never Clean Up My Room" is an amusing tale of one child whose recalcitrance pays off in interesting ways. Some songs are hearty renditions of public domain and traditional songs (including, yes, "De Colores," which makes this literally the 5th or 6th version on our CD shelf). Ironically, the favorite song of mine and my daughter is the one Brave Combo-penned song, "Spaghetti," and enthusiastic tribute to restaurant pasta that ends with three or four overlapping musical lines. As with any good music, you can play either of these albums for kids of all ages, but kids from 4 to 8 years of age would probably appreciate them best. The record is on the Rounder label, available in the usual online suspects and in the "real world."